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Making Light Human Again

Making light human again: human centric lighting, colour tuning, and smart lighting

Imagine that a room’s lighting can change to match your desired mood. Do you want to be productive? Creative? Focused? Calm? Or maybe you want to be able to control your lighting for maximum energy efficiency? All of these are possible with the newest trends in lighting.

An approach called human centric lighting is about calibrating our lighting to support our needs. Humans have a physical relationship to light, having relied on the sun and the changing quality of light throughout the day to set our circadian rhythms. Brighter light rich in blue content can help us be more alert and productive, while dimmer, warmer light calms us down.

Today, we are surrounded by artificial light, and lighting designers and engineers are striving to create lighting that works with our biology. Controlling light dimming and colour temperature properly can have benefits for mood, performance and visual acuity, while also improving sustainability.

A study conducted by the University of Mississippi found that students exposed to four different lighting settings designed to complement their activities experienced increases in performance 33% higher than students in the control group. Another study in an industrial setting by LightingEurope found that, while a human centric lighting system did increase costs, productivity and staff retention went up while sick days and accidents went down.

LEDs are uniquely equipped to deliver human centric lighting through a method called colour tuning. Through dim-to-warm tuning (mimicking the familiar warm glow of incandescent lights), white colour tuning (adjusting light temperature), and full colour tuning (providing colour anywhere on the visible spectrum), LEDs can provide a huge range of lighting with subtle variations—perfect for human centric lighting.

Colour Temperature Chart

Another piece of the puzzle is the trend towards smart lighting. Part of the greater smart appliance movement and the Internet of things, smart lighting involves lighting design that adjusts based on the needs of the occupants. That can be as simple as using sensors to switch lights off automatically when a room is vacant, or more complex, like responding to ambient daylight. Smart lighting can mesh with human centric lighting beautifully by changing lighting settings throughout the day or according to business schedules.

Human centric lighting, colour tuning, and smart lighting are exciting and emerging fields in lighting technology. If you want to learn more, here are some great resources and articles: