Artificial light sources are mimicking the healing properties of natural light for improved health and well-being.
Sometimes the byproducts associated with the pace and rigor of modern life have a relatively simple solution; better lighting. Common conditions like fatigue, jet-lag and insomnia are being re-examined within this context to some surprising results. By taking a critical look at lighting sources as a potential source of healing and renewal, we’ve seen a number of new technologies that are looking at how improved, concentrated lighting can become a remedy in itself.
In a trend we are calling Light Therapy, PSFK Labs explores innovations that explore light’s ability to positively impact our overall health. “I think light definitely has a place in both medicinal and psychiatric therapies,” comments Winka Dubbledam, Principal at ArchiTectonics. “With seasonal depression it’s a huge, huge help. It’s proven that people react pretty fast to different light conditions, or even light therapy, and that that can alleviate ‐ maybe not cure ‐ mood swings and other things.”
One example tackles an experience that many of us have been through at one point or another. The Photon Shower is a light chamber that explores how light can be used to realign a traveler’s biological clock after long flights across time zones. Travelers can input their flight information into the Photon Shower and it will adjust for their individual needs based on flight time and what their body is likely feeling. Developed as a working prototype for Delta Airlines by Wieden + Kennedy New York with the help of sleep expert Dr. Russell Foster, the system provides a light sequence that recreates the effects of sunlight to alleviate jet lag and provide a pick-me-up for tired travelers. In the future, the shower could be an offering by the airline to help improve the flying experience. According to Stephanie Rosenbloom, writing in the New York Times, “experts say that since light is the primary environmental cue telling your body’s clock when to sleep and when to wake, controlling jet lag is fundamentally about controlling light and darkness.” A video further detailing the concept can be found here.
Imitating the movements of the sun is another solution proposed by The Luminarium, a motorized work lamp that runs in 12 hour cycles, mimicking the movement, intensity, and color of the sun from dawn to dusk. As it ‘rises,’ three types of fluorescent bulbs mix to recreate the warm, bright sunshine of morning (about 3000°K). Over the course of the day, the light changes from warm to cool, until reaching its peak at 6000°K. Then it shifts back to warm tones again, as the sun ‘sets.’ Created by Milanese designer Stefano Pertegato, the concept explores whether a simple lamp could recreate the effect of the sun, recalibrating bodies to produce serotonin at normal cycles.
The Photon Shower and the Luminarium demonstrate how artificial lighting sources are working to embody the healing properties of natural light. We would be interested to see if home LED systems could integrate latest in research around the affect of lighting on health to create optimal conditions for well-being. Perhaps these light therapy technologies could be integrated into pre-existing products like showers or computers creating more opportunities for owners to experience its benefits without changing their daily routines.
These examples are also manifestations of a larger theme we are calling Light for Life, which exemplifies innovations that explore the transformative power of light and its ability to positively impact the lives of individuals and communities by promoting well-being and creating more opportunities for economies and activities to take place at all hours of the day.
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.