Wavelength control is ‘the future of lighting’
Daylight has had a strong effect on humans since civilisation began. Now a new breed of lighting systems are putting the power of light under our control. Anna Mitchell learns more from Claus Søgaard, owner and CEO of Lightcare.
Light can have a huge impact on how we feel; waking us up when we’re tired, encouraging sleep when we’re restless, calming us down or energising us. Harnessing that power can play a big part in improving the lives of employees, patients and students, which was exactly the aim of Claus Søgaard when he established Lightcare in 2014.
Søgaard originally worked for Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen before founding his own company, Luminex, in 2000. Lightcare was a spin-off from Luminex and sparked by Søgaard’s desire to create systems that “can actually make a difference for humans”.
The company was partly the result of hours of research into lighting at academic institutions all over the world and particularly in Europe. As Lightcare started to develop systems they were deployed in universities for further research, expanding understanding of just how powerful a tool lighting can be.
It now has two locations in Denmark, one in Copenhagen and the other in middle of Jutland. Much of the company’s current work comes from Denmark, Sweden and Norway but there has also been interest from the UK, Australia and Dubai.
"We see that [the Sense room] calms down very aggressive and agitated people with dementia."
Many Lightcare systems are based on a principle of circadian lighting and changing the wavelengths of the light to achieve specific goals. Lightcare software systems control all wavelengths. “We know exactly which times during the day you need blue wavelengths and then we can strip the blue wavelengths out in the evening and night so you get a more amber, orange colour,” offers Søgaard as an example.
Lightcare products often integrate with third- party products such as building control systems and Søgaard mentions the huge future impact it could have within the IoT.
A recent example of how a Lightcare system has been successfully deployed was in a dementia facility run by the Municipality of Billund in Denmark.
Kathrin Terkelsen, the care centre manager, explained the thinking behind the installation. “We have studied a lot of articles concerning light and AV systems to help dementia patients,” she said. “All this I shared with Claus from Lightcare and he agreed to make a state-of-the- art dementia room that everyone was able to maintain.”
The Sense room uses lighting, sound, projection and even smell to calm the patients and support the therapy they are given in the space.
“We see that it calms down very aggressive and agitated people with dementia and that [means] we can reduce medicine cost and care workers will get more time with other patients,” adds Line Mathiasen, a physiotherapist at the facility. “We also see that a sad or shy person will be happier and get more life energy. It´s easier for the staff to get closer to the patients and get their confidence.”
With the lighting in the room exceeding 10,000 lux, Søgaard’s team opted for a 100-in dnp denmark LaserPanel. “We wanted a projector that doesn’t make any sound and a system that allowed us to make some very bright light in the room,” Søgaard expands. “We are able to have a very bright picture on the dnp screen.”
When an appropriate control system couldn’t be found, Lightcare stepped in again. “The Lightcare operating system is essentially an open source system and we programmed it to control everything in this room,” says Søgaard.
The facility’s staff only need to press a single button to pick a scenario and the set up of the room is completely automated, including the start up and shut down of the dnp denmark LaserPanel projector. The projector start up and shut down takes less than ten seconds so the room can be up and running very quickly.
"This is definitely the future of lighting, there is no doubt about that."
In another application, Lightcare was brought on board to help a company trying to make sure its shift workers on an oil platform in the North Sea could rest when off duty and feel energised when they were working.
“Most hospitals operate three shifts, but this company only has two 12 hour shifts per day,” says Søgaard. “They had a lot of problems with headaches and circadian rhythms. The employees found it hard when they returned from work, it was almost like they had jet lag.
“We developed a special system that provided bright light and when they had to go to sleep, we reduced the light, made it calm, reduced all the blue wavelengths and they were able to sleep in the day and be fresh for work.
“This is definitely the future of lighting, there is no doubt about that,” continues Søgaard but adds there is still work to be done on increasing understanding around the world. His next aim is to make a true plug-and- play system and says software development is crucial to meet that goal.
This is definitely the future of lighting, there is no doubt about that.