So you’ve tinkered with Ikea Tradfri and horsed around with Philips Hue. Now what?

Well, there is now an even brighter, bolder place for smart light addicts to go. Nanoleaf has been making fancy, energy efficient bulbs since 2014, and its new crowning glory is this modular ‘art installation’.

The Aurora Smarter Kit contains nine triangular LED panels, which you can fix together in virtually any pattern on your wall, before standing back to admire their dazzling, customisable light show.

Even better for impressing party guests and pets is the new Rhythm module (an optional £50 extra), which plugs into one of these panels and syncs your Aurora’s colours to music played in the room.

Should you buy it at the expense of upgrading your knackered washing machine? Of course not – Aurora is pure gadget indulgence.

But after fearing that it might have the longevity of Christmas lights, I think it might just be the most spectacular bit of smart home tech you can buy...

Design and setup: lighting's on the wall

One of the best things about the basic Aurora kit is how versatile it is.

Those triangular panels can be connected on any side via the included ‘linkers’, which means you can create a pattern that both snakes around your room’s furniture and is quite possibly unique.

Naturally, the only restriction is that one end needs to be a near a power outlet. Otherwise, you can mount your panels around corners with the optional ‘flex linkers’ (it’s £9 for a pack of nine), and grow your pattern with expansion packs (£55 for a pack of three panels).

If you’re looking to turn your lounge into the Ministry of Sound, the system can support up to thirty panels, but bear in mind this relieve your wallet of almost £600.

Does Aurora take a similar hit on your electricity bills? Not likely – each panel is an energy efficient LED, so you’ll get 100 lumens from each at a maximum cost of 2W power (at full brightness).

Still, as spectacular as a plugged in Aurora is, there are a couple of design-based downers.

Firstly, the default way to mount the panels is by using the bundled 3M command strips. While these adhesive stickers are suitable for painted walls and plaster, they’re not really recommended for wallpaper and do feel a bit ‘university houseshare’.

For uneven surfaces or wallpaper, you’re best off going with the optional Screw Mount Kit (£23). This is slightly pricey and possibly involves craft knifing the hexagonal mounts into the right shape.

Aside from the slightly fiddly mounting options, my other quibble is how Aurora looks when turned off. I’m not sure I’ve used a gadget with such a big contrast between its ‘on’ and ‘off’ states – without the power on, the panels look a tad plasticky and toy-like.

Giving each panel a metallic frame would no doubt have pushed the price towards an original Hockney painting, but this means it’s probably best suited to offices, kids’ rooms, hallways and guest rooms, rather than your lounge.

Once you do flick that ‘on’ switch, though, they suddenly look like £180 well spent...

Performance and the app: leading lights

So, how do the Aurora lights look in person? Pretty stunning, actually - photos and videos don't really do them justice. 

The panels are bright, punchy and capable of shining in 16.7 million different colours, which means it can genuinely live up to its billing as ‘living paint’.

From a distance, it looked like someone had shot a load of triangular Portal holes in my wall.

The app (below) also lets you indulge in some serious tweaking.

I’m not someone who likes to spend hours designing my own lighting scenes, but luckily there are hundreds of user-designed scenes (for both a standard Aurora and the Rhythm module) in the app’s ‘discover’ section.

You can also do some basic scheduling to set a regular time for your Aurora lights to turn on, although you can’t yet set a duration (just ‘turn on at this time’).

More powerful automation is possible from the Aurora’s HomeKit integration, which lets you combine them with other smart lights like Philips Hue and add things like geofencing, though it’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll need a to set up a ‘home hub’ using an Apple TV or iPad for the latter.

And how good is that Rhythm module? When you use the microphone, there’s naturally a slight delay between the bass kicking in and the lights reacting, but I was impressed with its response rates with most types of music.

The microphone is sensitive, even responding to small noises and quiet chatter, and you can always improve the music syncing by plugging your phone into the 3.5mm jack.

It's probably the best house party gadget short of a robot Tiesto.

Nanoleaf Aurora + Rhythm verdict

If you’re looking for some smart lights that’ll outshine your neighbour’s Philips Hue setup, look no further.

The Auroras might not be as practical as other smart lights, but your party guests, kids and inner gadget child will love them.

Okay, the mounting options and software aren’t perfect, and that price tag means they’re far from an impulse buy.

But if you’ve got a spare spot on your wall for some sci-fi art that can double as both a glittering musical companion and a soporific mood light, the Auroras might just be the smart lights for you.

Stuff says... 

Nanoleaf Aurora + Rhythm review

The most dazzling smart lights around with some impressive sonic skills, but there are still a few rough edges
from
£180
Good Stuff 
Look stunning (when turned on)
Modular design makes it versatile and expandable
Optional Rhythm module responds well to music
Can be voice controlled via Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri
Works with Apple HomeKit and other services via IFTTT
Bad Stuff 
Look a bit plasticky (when turned off)
We initially had some firmware issues (since solved)
Default mounting options are a bit fiddly