Human-Centric Lighting: Healthier Living With Smart Lighting January 18, 2017 00:00

human centric lighting in the workplace

Imagine working in an office where your cubicle’s lighting adjusts specifically to suit your individual needs.

Tired in the morning? Your lights will adjust, giving you the bright light you need to stay on task and keep your energy levels up. Getting close to the end of the day? Your lights will gradually change to a softer, warmer hue to better ease your transition into leisure mode, helping you to leave your work at the office where it belongs.

Or imagine you work third shift at a manufacturing factory two nights a week. While the job may pay the bills it unfortunately also wreaks havoc on your sleep schedule throughout the rest of the week. Whereas sleeping and waking when you’re scheduled to work is never a problem, your off days are a constant battle between what time it is and what time your body thinks it is.

Ever since your employers installed a brand-new lighting system, though, you’ve been finding yourself not only waking up and sleeping much easier, you also have more energy at work. Plus, your performance has never been better!

These are just two instances of how human centric lighting are changing businesses across the world. And while the applications of this growing movement are nearly limitless, the future of human centric lighting is only getting brighter.

human centric lighting in the laboratory

What is Human Centric Lighting?

Human centric lighting, or HCL, is a term used to describe a shift in focus in the lighting industry.

Up until recently, the primary purpose of a light bulb was purely to provide illumination. We all need light, whether it be to cook a meal, write a paper, or carry out tasks at work. And a light bulb provided that illumination. Simple.

But, as experts are finding, light has much more of an effect on our bodies than we initially thought.

For example, we’ve all heard about rods and cones in our eyes. These are the cells that help us distinguish colors, shapes, and light in general. We wouldn’t be able to see without them!

In 2002, though, a third type of cell in our eyes was identified which apparantly plays a major role in synchronizing our internal clocks (or circadian rhythm). These cells are called the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, more mercifully known as ipRGCs. The ipRGCs are specialized to become excited by light and, in turn, signal to your body whether to stay in daytime mode or prepare for sleep.

Human centric lighting, then, is a shift towards learning how to harness this knowledge to create an advanced lighting system. These systems not only take advantage of the energizing effects of certain types of light and brightness levels, but also help to create a healthy sleep cycle as well.

human centric lighting in the conference room

The benefits of Human Centric Lighting

In a report released by the consulting firm ATKearney, HCL can increase employee productivity by 4.5% compared to regular LED lighting. And not only that, there is also a statistically significant drop in both errors, accidents, sick days, and employee turnover that come with HCL systems.

Most of these quantifiable benefits occur due to an increase in the difficult to quantify benefits. The report outlines that in addition to employees experiencing enhanced mood, energy levels, and relaxation, the subjects of the study also scored better in terms of cognitive performance and had a more stable sleep-wake cycle.

Although these non-visual benefits are hard to quantify, now that there is growing science on the topic, businesses are more seriously considering taking HCL guidelines into account.

These benefits aren’t going unnoticed either. According to the director of Smart & Health Lighting Research Center, Prof. Tongsheng Mou, in an interview with ISOfocus, the “global HCL market is expected to grow from USD 34 million in 2015 to USD 805 million in 2020”.

It might be hard to imagine today but just think: twenty years from now we might have lighting that not only adjusts to provide us with the perfect amount of light for whatever task is at hand, but also changes colors and brightness to help us feel energized and healthy throughout the day.

And while many of us already have access to these capabilities through the use of smart bulbs that feature automatic color and brightness changing, the idea that these types of lights will someday be anywhere you go (malls, gas stations, offices, etc.) is something to look forward to!

Let us know what you think!

What do you think about the health-focused lighting revolution? Have you already started creating your own human centric lighting system by adjusting your smart bulbs? Let us know in the comment section below and start your HCL journey with the Flux Smart product line!