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There are home settings where windows are impractical or even counterproductive. I’m thinking about an Antarctic dorm, a bomb shelter, or anywhere along the refinery rim of northeastern New Jersey.
But there are many more cases when housing density or architectural constraints leave rooms in gloom. Conventional lighting will brighten a space, but over time the room can give you cabin fever.
To save a dark room and bring in some natural—or at least natural-like, lighting—you can install tubular skylights, but they can’t be used in all situations and the light they shed is localized.
Here’s another option: artificial skylights from Sky Factory that play hours of Ultra HD nature video. Think of them as ‘cultured sky’ to go with your cultured marble.
It sounds ridiculous at first, installing commercial-grade, edge-lit LCD monitors in ceilings or walls to get the illusion of beautiful vistas. But interior lighting is by definition artificial. And how different is this idea from the growing number of online sites that show relaxing, high-def, no-narration nature video?
Sky Factory, whose primary customers are businesses, essentially has two primary residential product lines, and each has a library of images from which to choose. The images are billed as being very high-quality and proprietary, so you will not have seen them commercially elsewhere.
The first line, Luminous SkyCeiling, is high-resolution acrylic transparencies, backlit with standard T5 fluorescent or proprietary Sky Factory bulbs. Each unit (the smallest is two feet square) requires nine inches of ceiling space to create the most realistically lit scenes.
(As with all of Sky Factory models, the units can be assembled together to create views that are, in theory, as big as your imagination.)
SkyV is a video version of the SkyCeiling. It’s a fraction as deep, because each SkyV is composed of three 40-inch, LED edge-lit LCD monitors networked together along with three hard drives (one per monitor). Each drive holds eight hours of ultra HD video.
The second line, the Luminous Virtual Window is similar to SkyCeilings—both are high-resolution transparencies—but the Virtual Window comes in several standard sizes as well as custom dimensions. Virtual Windows, which are edge-lit with LED bulbs, are only 2 3/8-inches deep.
The high-def video version of Virtual Windows is the eScape and comes with sound. eScapes are 40- or 46-inch edge-lit LCD monitors paired with hard drives and speakers. In terms of content variety, the eScape is the richest model: a snowy forest, Maine beaches, placid mountainscapes, even a salt-water aquarium.
Wondering how much they cost? So am I. Sky Factory’s spokeswoman, Sondra Ward, said the company divulges prices only to actual buyers. Installations are likely to be custom, making a standard price sheet difficult to create. You also have to figure in the cost of setting them in the wall or ceiling and running power to them.
So just like with all other instances, the view will cost you.
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