One of the most interesting trends at this month’s Lightfair in Las Vegas was a pronounced shift in how some LED lighting is now being developed and marketed. Along with familiar performance metrics like efficacy and life span, there’s a new emphasis on lighting’s contributions to human health and well being, particularly in the area of enhancing the quality of sleep.
We’ve already seen this work wonders in other industries. At one time, spa treatments were simply considered luxury indulgences, whereas wellness now tops treatment menus. I can’t vouch for the validity of horseback reiki, but anyone who attended Dr. Mariana Figuero’s session at last year’s American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Conference knows that the science behind lighting’s effect on sleep and circadian rhythms is very real. The wavelengths and levels of light reaching the retina — even when eyes are closed — can be disruptive enough to impair cognitive ability. But when the lighting is appropriate for our internal clocks, even the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and related dementias can be mitigated.
It’s a logical — and, as Baby Boomers seek to age in place, potentially lucrative —progression of the concept of tunable light (also still an important trend). And as more companies put the power to program lighting in the palm of your hand via mobile devices, there’s an app for that.
At this year’s ALA Conference in September, Director of Technology and Engineering Terry McGowan will present more research on the subject of light and human behavior, and whether there are opportunities for our industry in that space. That, too, came up at Lightfair, especially lighting for promoting productivity in commercial environments. At this rate, will the hand that controls the rocker switch rule the world?