LED Product Directory
- LED Display
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- LED Ceiling Light
- LED Down Light
- LED Energy Saving Light
- LED Flashlight
- LED Floodlight
- LED Garden Light
- LED Headlamp
- LED Lantern
- LED Light
- LED Solar Light
- LED Spotlight
- LED Street Light
- LED Strip
- LED Table Lamp
- LED Tube
- LED Underwater Light
- LED Wall Light
The light emitting diodes (LED) employed as cabin lighting have been programmed to, ideally, partially tweak the circadian rhythms of passengers on transcontinental flights. The hope is that it will help passengers adjust to jet lag more easily.
Although LEDs have largely been touted by advocates as a way to curb energy consumption, many manufacturers have begun to discover that the “other” attributes of these chips—long lifetimes, low maintenance requirements, precise control and communications capabilities– could actually emerge as the strongest selling points.
And one of the more interesting, unexpected, and unusual attributes comes in the area of personal health. Researchers over the past few decades have discovered that exposure to low levels of light in the blue part of the spectrum can inhibit the natural production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. Conversely, blocking that portion of the spectrum will allow melatonin to flow.
A properly engineered light bulb, in other words, could help you sleep.
“You can reset circadian rhythms and evoke behavioral responses,” said Dr. George Brainard, a professor of neurology at the Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, who added that health could be one of the common packaging and branding qualities, like output and watts, in a decade or two.
The first consumer “biological specific lights” could even start to hit the market in about two years, says Fred Maxik, one of the founders of Lighting Science Group, which specializes in LED bulbs.
Lighting Science has made LED lights for testing circadian rhythm impacts for both NASA and aircraft engineers. (See photo.) The company currently works with Google on a bulb that dims and brightens as you approach with an Android phone. Bulbs tuned to kill germs–UV light can be deadly to microbes–might appear four to five years beyond sleepy bulbs.
The potential to exploit LED bulbs as sleeping aids derives largely from the fact that LEDs can be programmed to emit light at precise wavelengths, colors and tones. LEDs, after all, are digital semiconductors. Traditional light bulbs produce light by heating exotic gases or pieces of metal inside of sealed tubes: they are the last vestige of the 132-year old vacuum tube era. Controlling them requires filters and the tribal wisdom of lighting designers.
“An LED is a light source, but it is an infinitely controllable source,” said Zach Gentry, an executive at Enlighted, which combines LEDs with temperature, light and occupancy sensors for monitoring energy consumption and physical activity in office buildings.
Throughout most of human history, people began their workday when the sun crossed the horizon and went to bed after night descended. Even warfare ceased with sundown.
“Before the industrial revolution, people worked in fields. There was a really strong dichotomy between night and day,” said Don Peifer, a noted lighting expert who helped found Lunera, an LED fixture company that has received VC funds from the Westly Group and others.
Circadian disruptions, and the anxiety, insomnia and chronic tiredness that they can cause, arguably got mostly ushered in with the modern era. Working the night shift with a lifestyle dominated by artificial light becomes for some almost like a permanent case of jet lag, said Peifer. Interestingly, when Edison made the first incandescent bulb, he picked components that would give a tone resembling the light from whale oil lamps. “It was the primordial flame,” he said.
Looking at computer screens late at night can boost alertness but also reduce sleepiness, according to a study in March from the University of Basel, which called for more research into LED computer screens that can dynamically adjust light output to “help to provide essential light information to the circadian timing system.”