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Beamer, the iPhone case for night owls

The latest offering by the Quirky design collaborative is an iPhone case with a built in LED light for use as both a flashlight or a camera flash.

Beamer, an iPhone case with a built-in LED light, will only be available for purchase if at least 500 people preorder it.

It's not like us to get too excited about an iPhone case, but this one shines--literally--because it's the very device I was wishing for last month while traveling in Europe.

This iPhone day shot of the Leaning Tower of Pisa turned out just fine, but my night shots didn't work at all. Beamer would have helped. Michelle Meyers/CNET

Beamer, as the name connotes, is an iPhone case with a built-in LED light you can turn on to use as both a flashlight and a camera flash. Just the thing I needed when I wanted to shoot the Leaning Tower of Pisa at night with my iPhone, having left my real camera back at our hotel.

And it sure would have helped in Paris when we returned at night to our historic apartment building and had to climb six flights up a pitch-black spiral staircase. (I did light the way with my iPhone, but this would have been much better.)

Beamer has a hard-plastic, two-piece design, equipped with a replaceable coin cell battery that provides about 10 hours of illumination. Pressing the silicone button once will turn the light on for 10 seconds. Pressing it twice in a row will leave it on indefinitely, or until you press it a third time. It comes in an array of bright colors.

The case is just the latest design from Quirky, a relatively new collaborative design community that also conceived of the super-cute DigiDude tripod and that cool Watt Time light-bulb shaped alarm clock.

In line with Quirky's crowd-sourced production model, the Beamer won't be available for consumers until 500 orders have been made, at which point those who have committed to buying it will be charged $32. Right now, 44 prospective Beamer owners have preordered.