This Nightlight is a Nightmare for People Who Want To Unplug

June 28th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

The digital era has delivered us some truly advanced and life-enhancing technologies. But recently, it's also delivered us gadgets that make it increasingly difficult to disconnect.

The latest example?

This nightlight, which connects to WiFi and uses LED lights to alert us to things like unread emails and retweets, all night long. 

Here's how the Aumi Mini "smart notification light" works: Plug it in to a USB port, link it up with your WiFi network, and set your preferences. The light can "trigger alerts for weather, smart locks, calendars, social media mentions, security, important emails, stock market, thermostats," and more, according to the device's Kickstarter page.

Twitter users are on the fence about this technology.

But while there's certainly interest in the gadget (it's already exceeded its $23,000 crowdfunding goal about a month ahead of schedule), its function seems to run counter to what more Americans report wanting to do: unplug.

Workers in the U.S. already work more for longer hours, take less vacations, and retire later in life than workers in any other industrialized country, ABC News reported. Part of what's contributing to those longer hours could be that roughly two-thirds of Americans report using technology to do extra work outside of the office, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.

About one-third of workers say they "frequently" check their work emails after hours. And while 17 percent of that group report having better overall lives than people who stick to their 9-to-5 work schedule, half of this group also reported having "a lot of stress" the previous day, compared to their unplugged colleagues.

Still, many Americans strive to unplug more often—to little avail.

In 2016, the Harris Poll released a report that showed 45 percent of Americans attempt to unplug from their electronic devices at least once a week. Sixty percent of those surveyed also said they "wish their family members would unplug more often."

But unplugging is easier said than done, apparently.

From the Harris Poll:

"Nearly four in ten adults (37 percent) each say it’s simply unrealistic to unplug for more than a few hours at a time and they have a fear of missing out when they’re unplugged. Just over one quarter (27 percent) say it’s difficult because their business never sleeps."

The fact that there's a market for a nightlight that accomplishes the opposite of unplugging seems to highlight that the practice remains, for some Americans, untenable or undesirable for personal or professional reasons.