A healthier way to look at light is dawning

Nov. 17, 2017
Lighting for health and wellbeing — also known as human-centric lighting — is an essential area of coverage for us. Join us for a webcast on Nov. 30 to see beyond illumination to improved wellbeing.

Lighting for health and wellbeing — also known as human-centric lighting — is an essential area of coverage for us. The growth of interest in this field of application had, of course, informed our decision to hold the first Lighting for Health and Wellbeing Conference this past summer, and chief editor Maury Wright has shared the science surrounding those presentations with you.

We’re holding our next webcast in just under two weeks, presented in part by one of the foremost researchers into how lighting impacts human health — Dr. Mariana Figueiro, director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Ketra executive Tom Hamilton is also on board to discuss how the implications of lighting’s impact on human biorhythms led the company to develop a system that delivers and manages LED lighting to mimic the qualities of shifting natural daylight.

The discussion around the potential capabilities of human-centric lighting has certainly evolved. Going back to 2014 when Maury interviewed Finelite’s Terry Clark, the conversation centered around the many unknowns and the possibilities. Clark was able to point to what prior studies had lacked as far as conclusive evidence — while also explaining that this didn’t mean determining the effects of light on human health was impossible, nor did it mean the industry couldn’t make strides in designing lighting products and schemes that would benefit the human condition in the built environment. At that time, as a veteran in the lighting industry, he was careful to emphasize that any analytics Finelite was using to engineer its tunable lighting products were being based on the idea of preferences — and that is one particular angle of lighting that is considered human centric. When occupants are provided with light that is comfortable from an intensity and color temperature standpoint, without glare or flicker, they will equate that with more positive experiences in the space, concluded Clark. (He outlined some of these advantages applied to classroom settings later on in 2016.)

We started to see even more work being cited and publicized by the solid-state lighting (SSL) industry. Lighting manufacturers, designers, and specifiers as well as architects have become more aware of the qualities and capabilities of LED-based SSL and the ability to control it very granularly, tune the spectrum, and program it. In 2015, the industry organization LightingEurope released a study on the emotional/behavioral and biological benefits of human-centric lighting, and in describing the value proposition, our contributor Caroline Hayes concluded, “When creativity meets controllable lighting, it would appear the prospects for the industry could be boundless.”

Last fall, prior to her speaking engagement at the 2017 Strategies in Light conference, Figueiro summarized some of the updates on circadian science, encouraging ongoing study while not shying away from the application of tunable SSL systems intended to optimize light exposure for circadian stability. “Not knowing all of the answers shouldn’t stop us from designing and implementing new lighting solutions targeted to deliver circadian-effective light to the built environment. While claims for improved performance cannot be made yet, no one can refute the idea that light isn’t just for vision. The design of our living spaces, therefore, shouldn’t be just for vision either,” she stated.

More enlightening resources

Get a primer on tunable lighting in healthcare and how surgeons see better outcomes.
Innovators begin to infuse HCL findings into the workplace.
More offices take to tunable LEDs — and see beyond CCT to SPD.
Learn how buildings can get WELL with creative lighting design.

Various institutions and companies are making a dedicated effort to study, collect data, analyze, refine, and apply the principles agreed upon in multiple types of settings for a variety of outcomes. If you refer back to the linked feature on the Lighting for Health and Wellbeing Conference, you’ll see the participants have ranged from medical/clinical researchers to scientists and engineers involved in diverse bio-impact efforts (even on the International Space Station!). We are eager to share with you the latest scientific conclusions and developments that are being applied in real situations. We’re seeing a period of building excitement — people are going from simply occupying lit spaces to engaging with them and wanting more from them. Enhancing that experience with safe, quality light delivered with care — well, that’s the next wave of innovation. Join us on Nov. 30 to see beyond illumination to improved wellbeing.

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.