With the development of LED technology, humble light bulbs perform more than just “on and off”. The lamp can be the centerpiece of an outdoor environment aimed at improving health, mood, and even food quality.
LEDs can produce light in multiple colors, generate less heat, and use some of the energy from older bulbs. The LEDs can be controlled remotely from a PC or smartphone, or programmed from a TV.
“There is a huge potential for LED lighting that goes beyond lighting,” John Strainick, General Electric’s general manager of consumer lighting. “We’re asking people to think about lighting more than just making an impulse purchase.”
Due to the LED manufacturing process, the very light produced by this technology is relative to the blue part of the spectrum. This is true, regardless of whether the LED is used in a light bulb or on a TV screen.
This blue light has its own benefits: it stimulates the photoreceptor in the eye, which reduces melatonin production and keeps the person in a cheerful mood.
Tabu’sLumen TL800 lamps use a Bluetooth connection to control the lamp from a smartphone, allowing the user to change the color, brightness of the lamp, and synchronize lighting effects to the rhythm of the song playing on the phone.
“You have to think of light as a cure” Terry K. McGowan, CTO of the American Lighting Association, a trade group.
That’s why Lighting Science, a manufacturer of LEDs, is now selling wake-and-alert technology, an LED light that wakes people up by emitting blue light. Conversely, GoodNight has been developed to reduce blue light output, helping people sleep. This summer, Lighting Science introduced its RhythmDownlight, a lamp controlled by a smartphone app that adjusts blue light based on the user’s sleep schedule.
“Wake up and alert” doesn’t look brighter, but our circadian (biorhythm) system sees it brighter.” Robert Soler, Lighting Science director of lighting research. “We have always felt that light can do much more than just increase the field of view.”
Philips sells its line of energy-enhanced lamps, including the wake-up-to-alert and anti-winter depression lights -goLite BLU, and a blue LED panel.
In Europe, Philips is experimenting with its HealWell system in hospitals. By changing colors according to the time of day, it encourages the patient to wake up, feel more relaxed and sleep more easily. When conducting research at the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, it was found that cardiology patients sleep longer and think less about depression.
In the United States, Lighting Science is working on a similar system and plans to offer such a product by the end of this year. “Unfortunately, many hospitals have removed tanning beds, but many studies have shown that they improve the recovery processes in the human body,” Mr. Soler from Lighting Science.
While the ability to change the color of an LED lamp opens up new possibilities for using light, the fact that LEDs can be controlled remotely significantly changes their potential.
The Wake Up and Alert System, an LED lamp from Lighting Science, removes the blue light that stimulates the photoreceptor in the eye, which reduces melatonin production and helps a person stay awake.
With Osram Sylvania’s ULTRA IQ system, users can program the lamps to turn on when the key is turned in the lock. On the other hand, the Philips Hue system allows users to create their own lighting moods and then send those lamp instructions via a smartphone app. The lights can also be programmed to respond to specific events, such as emitting a given color, when a roast needs to be removed from the oven.
Tabu’s Lumen TL800 lamp uses a Bluetooth connection to control the lamp from a smartphone, allowing the user to change the colors, brightness of the lamp, and synchronize lighting effects to the rhythm of the song playing on the phone.
But synchronizing lighting that is tied to events is much more and more difficult. Philips has developed lighting systems that reduce crop overgrowth and increase yields in greenhouse vegetables and flowers simply by using specific shades of light.
In the Netherlands and Canada, fruit and vegetable farmers are using Philips LEDs to improve their weight, increase fruit growth and reduce ripening time while reducing energy costs.
“We find the optimal light recipe for fruit and vegetable growth,” says Udo van Slooten, general manager of Philips Lighting for Horticulture.
In the next few years, the world’s leading lighting companies are looking to expand sensor-related LEDs.
For example, sensors can show how many people are in a room and where they are, and direct a certain amount of lighting where it is needed. Worry-prone medical patients may feel calmer as facial recognition technology detects their anxiety and changes the tint of light in rooms to a more soothing tone. When the elderly enter the room, the light intensity can be raised to compensate for their poor ability to see any objects.
“Today, lighting is becoming as common as a blender,” says Mr. McGowan of the American Lighting Association. I tell people that when they go anywhere they should take their LED bulbs with them.