How Responsive Lighting Connects People To Their Environments [Future of Light]

How Responsive Lighting Connects People To Their Environments [Future of Light]

Advances in sensor technology are using illumination to create an intuitive and highly personalized link between people and their surroundings.

  • 22 september 2013

Can better lighting improve lives? Some of the leading innovators in urban planning and product design seem to think so. They are leveraging rapid advances in sensor technology to create lighting solutions that respond to people in new and unique ways to change how people interact with and experience their surroundings both on a personal level and at scale.

In a trend we are calling Responsive Environments, PSFK Labs looks at how individual products and networked installations and systems are reacting to a person’s presence to provide on-demand illumination and often, tailored lighting experiences.


One example that supports this trend is Clyde. This expressive LED desk lamp can be programmed with personality modules to react to both an owner and its surroundings. Using Arduino technology, an open-source electronics software, the lamp can be ‘taught’ to respond with different colors and intensities of light when certain conditions occur. For example, when Clyde is in ‘afraid of the dark’ mode, it can light up depending on how dark a room is. In ‘touchy feely’ mode, Clyde cycles through different light colors when you touch its flexible legs. The project was created by Canadian design company Fabule Fabrications and successfully backed through crowdfunding site Kickstarter.


Amanda Williams, co-founder of Fabule Fabrications, told us:

Sensing and networking help us create environments that are “smart”, but when it comes to homes we strongly believe that we need spaces that are warm, welcoming, and expressive, as well as smart. To get there, we need really well-designed displays; this includes light, but also sound, color, temperature, and texture. The home is also a very personal space; we tailor it to our needs and desires, so why should our high-tech home devices be any different?

While the the Clyde lamp’s programmable interface offers simple customization options for people’s lifestyles and homes, these responsive technologies have implications that go beyond aesthetics. They can also deliver greater efficiency and savings at scale. Philips Lighting CEO Eric Rondolat writes, “Intelligent lighting provides the right amount of light precisely where it is needed and when it is needed. This enables municipal authorities to save energy and maintenance costs and to reduce obtrusive light, while making urban spaces safer and more attractive, thus strengthening city branding.”


To that end, the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands has installed a centralized lighting management system that enables the effective and efficient deployment of light across the urban landscape. Incorporating CityTouch technology from Philips, the solution enables the city to track the consumption and output of every part of the system and fine-tune lighting levels to meet local needs in real-time. Each bright spot can be controlled by radio frequency and can react with the push of a button if there is sudden calamity where more light is needed. When combined with LED lighting, City Touch can achieve up to 70% savings in energy usage.


Technologies like Clyde and CityTouch fall under the larger theme we’re calling Luminous Relationships, which explores how lighting designs can trigger positive emotional responses, changing a person’s relationship with their friends and family, their surroundings and even the products that occupy their lives.

The Future of Light series explores light’s potential to improve lives, build communities, and connect people in new and meaningful ways. Brought to you in partnership with Philips Lighting, a full report is available as an iOS and Android app or as a downloadable PDF.


IKEA Is Letting Kids Design Its New Line Of Toys

Travel Yesterday

30-Year-Old Photographs Used As Travel Guides

A new photo series revolves around tracing the origins of images from the past

Technology Yesterday

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Yesterday

VR App Prescribed For Pain Relief

A pharmacy chain in Sweden is stepping away from tradition to develop a happy place for the pain-afflicted

Retail Yesterday

Banks Are Coming Together To Create A New Payment Network That Rivals Venmo

A number of financial institutions are collaborating to make a new person-to-person monetary system called Zelle for their customers

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Pocket Camera Aims To Facilitate The Struggles Of Live Streams

The Mevo helps resolve the complexities of streaming video with an intuitive setup and smart editing controls

Food Yesterday

Startup Believes Traceability Will Help Disrupt The Multivitamin Industry

Ritual is a daily supplement for women that traces every ingredient back to its source

Food Yesterday

Photo Series Brutally Murders Some Of Your Favorite Fast Food

The portraits by artist duo Ilka & Franz do away with mealtime regulars in a way that is both beautiful and humorous


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 26, 2016

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

PSFK Labs october 25, 2016

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Mobile Yesterday

Coffeemaker Teaches You How To Make The Perfect Cup

The device comes with an accompanying app that guides novices and experts alike through the brewing process

Op-Ed Yesterday

General Electric: Lighting’s Impact On Sleep Is More Than The Off Switch

Jeff Patton, General Manager of Connected Home Products at GE Lighting, uncovers how lighting technologies can affect our sleep cycles

Brand Development Yesterday

The Story Behind How LYNK & CO Created A Car Brand From Scratch

Head of Design Andreas Nilsson describes which values were most influential in determining the identity and design direction of the new auto company

Travel Yesterday

Architect’s Design Presents A Radically New Approach For New York’s Penn Station

The firm of Vishaan Chakrabarti has envisioned a bright community and travel hub in the heart of the city

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: Building An All-Encompassing Performance Suite

WHOOP, ShotTracker, Rithmio, PlaySight, STYR Labs, EverybodyFights and Lift / Next Level Floats on the partnership opportunities available in health and fitness

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Fantasy Game Responds To Each Player’s Emotions

The card battling venture measures responses through a Bluetooth clip to adjust the experience accordingly

Luxury Yesterday

Carry A Map Of NYC On A Handbag

The bag from Bottega Veneta has been designed exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman to celebrate New York City

Technology Yesterday

Roaming Robots Crawl Around Your Body To Do Small Jobs As You Go About Your Day

A new concept wearable developed by researchers at MIT and Stanford are fully functional bots that live on your clothing

No search results found.