I ordered a colorhug ALS right after they were announced. What is that you might ask? Well, it’s a USB Automatic Light Sensor, useful for laptops that do not have a built in one. It allows software to see just how bright your environment is and adjust your laptop screen (saving lots of battery life).

The device came pretty quickly (considering it was shipped from the UK), and had a nice little instruction sheet, 1GB usb stick with docs and info and the device itself. It sticks out of the USB port a bit more than I would like, but it’s reasonably unobtrusive once it’s plugged in. Fedora already includes the colorhug-backlight package, so that was simple to install and run. Right now it’s tied to gnome, but I suspect it might not be hard to interface into other desktops.

After playing a bit with the default level, things seemed to work quite nicely. I did have a few times when I had the laptop on my lap and the sensor got obscured or put in shadow and adjusted the screen when perhaps it shouldn’t have, but it was easy to see what was happening and that didn’t occur in most normal use.

It would be cool if something like this could be added to yubikey nanos or the like (since I already have a port with one of those if it had a sensor it would be great) but not sure how practical that would be.

If your laptop doesn’t have a light sensor and battery life is important to you, I would definitely recommend picking one of these up.

See: http://hughski.com/colorhugals.html for more info and ordering instructuions.