Over the past year, we’ve seen the rise of WiFi-enabled LED light bulbs — each one proclaiming to be the “smarter” than the last — that can be programmed and controlled via apps on a compatible smartphone of tablet. Whether you’re impressed by the increasingly superior intelligence of these bulbs or view them as being unnecessarily complicated (would you spend more than $60-plus on a single household light bulb that can be synchronized to music, tweaked to one of 16 million customized colors, or alert you to real-time sewage levels?), none quite hold a proverbial candle to Nebula 12, a conceptual weather-forecasting lamp that visualizes meteorological conditions inside of your home. Ugh. Time to grab the umbrella — the chandelier in the dining room is makin' fog again!

The mind-boggling creation of Swiss design studio Micasa LAB, Nebula 12 uses liquid nitrogen, hot water, vacuum suction, LEDs, "peculiar techniques" and wireless data pulled from the U.K.'s national weather service, Met Office, to produce puffy/potentially ominous indoor cumuli that alert users to current or upcoming outdoor conditions. And no, if the forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain, the lamp won’t start drizzling all over your new carpet. Rather, a dense, darker-hued cloud is produced.

Explain the folks over at Micasa LAB:

In the standard mode, Nebula 12 predicts the weather for the next 48 hours. A threatening low-pressure area is announced by a red cloud, and sunshine is shown in yellow. At the same time, the user can adjust the settings and define the source of information themselves. And the best is: regardless of how dark the cloud is, Nebula 12 never brings rain. At least, not within one’s own four walls.

The light but stable creation can be used in many ways: Nebula 12 can, like a natural cloud, change in colour and brightness and thus can be used as a variable source of light for romantic evening meals, when doing homework, when reading or just chatting.

The cloud is easily connected by WIFI to your Nokia Lumia 920.

You can check out the Nebula 12 in full cloud-puffing action in the short video that I've embedded below.
And does Micasa LAB sound at all familiar? It's probably because the Zurich-based firm has also been garnering a fair amount of attention as of late for a clever, in-development iPad-charging rocking chair called iRock. Like Nebula 12, iRock — a piece of furniture capable of recharging an iPad 3 to 35 percent through an hour of nonstop rocking — also harnesses a playful "Mr. Wizard with a smartphone" sensibility. The big/obvious difference? One involves slight physical exertion; the other, suspending an extremely dangerous substance that needs constant refilling from your ceiling.

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Nebula 12: A lamp for all seasons (and weather conditions)
For those who prefer their meteorological forecasts to be startlingly literal, check out this WiFi-enabled chandelier that magically produces indoor clou