Petzl NAO headlamp offers reactive lighting


You know those images of miners that scour the depths of the earth, risking life and limb just to extract a new mineral from the bowels of the earth? They often wear a headlamp to help them look around, considering they do not have the eyesight of other subterranean creatures. Of course, fixing a light to a headband is functional enough, but how many times has this particular “wheel” been reinvented? Petzl has done a great job with their latest product – the all-new NAO headlamp. What makes the NAO headlamp so special? For starters, this headlamp delivers a totally new category of products that utilize what Petzl calls “Reactive Lighting.”

NAO is set to be Petzl’s brightest headlamp, capable of delivering up to 355 lumens. Bear in mind that this is not just brawn, but it does have brains as well. Located right above its two LEDs, would be a sensor which is capable of measuring ambient light, and is smart enough to adjust the beam strength and pattern according to the light conditions, specially aiming to give you the optimal amount of light without using up more battery power than necessary.

For instance, if you happen to look right ahead on a dark, moonless night, the NAO is capable of shining your path with a high-power, long-distance beam. Should the situation change and you feel lost, pulling out the trekking map from your pocket to go over it, it will cast a wide, low-power beam. This means you get to enjoy the right amount and type of light you need, without having to fiddle around with certain kinds of adjustments to achieve such an effect.

Basically, Petzl hopes that their Reactive Lighting technology will replace the two existing light modes in the headlamp market – which are declining mode and constant mode. The former will maximize a headlamp’s burn time through the gradual lowering the amount of light output, and as light output decreases over time, declining-mode devices will deliver the least amount of light in the darkest conditions. As for constant mode, a constant light output sounds great, but it is definitely a drain on your batteries. Reactive Lighting merges both strategies in a single solution, offering the right amount of light as and when you need it.

It would be interesting to see how the market reacts to the NAO, as its dual-strand Zephyr headband does look rather awkward at first glance, but this is because it was designed to offer a simple tightening mechanism which can be adjusted with one pull with the NAO on your head. In case of emergencies, just use a couple of AAA batteries to coax a low-power beam from it. Petzl intends to launch the NAO this July for $175.


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