Blues in the Light: Human-Centric Illumination Takes Hold

25 June 2015

Recent advances in human-centric lighting are setting the stage for what may be a budding opportunity for light emitting diode (LED) manufacturers.

The use of different light colors to impact human emotions has been growing in recent years. Different light colors are being experimented with during different times of the day—for example, yellow light in bedrooms, blue lights in offices. LEDs are also being used as a light source in order to maximize plant growth and even in dairy operations, according to a recent study from Michigan State University on how to increase cow milk production using LED lighting.

Blue LED lighting at Gatwick airport commuter rail station in the UK. Image source: Core77 Blue LED lighting at Gatwick airport commuter rail station in the UK. Image source: Core77 Recently, the U.K.’s Gatwick airport installed blue lights in their commuter rail station platforms in an effort to reduce the number of suicides at the station. The airport is following the lead of Japan, which began installing blue LED lighting in Tokyo in 2009 in order to combat a high number of suicides happening at railways in the country. Gatwick’s decision also came as a result of a Japanese study, which found that the country saw a decrease in the number of suicides by 74% in railway and commuter rail stations where blue LEDs were installed.

“The potential effects of lighting on humans have been known for a long time, but actual practical applications have started more recently,” says Fabian Hoelzenbein, lighting and LED analyst with IHS.Fabian Hoelzenbein, IHS Fabian Hoelzenbein, IHS

The Japanese researchers focused on the prevention effort by a Japanese railway company that installed blue LED lamps on railway platforms to prevent people from committing suicide. Using panel data from 71 train stations between 2000 and 2013, the researchers compared the number of suicides before and after the installation of the blue lights at 14 stations where the lights were installed. They also looked at data from five neighboring stations on the same railway line.

The researchers found that the introduction of blue lights decreased the number suicides by 74% at stations where the blue lights were installed. At the same time, it did not result in a systematic increase in the number of suicides at the neighboring stations.

Hoelzenbein says that numerous examples of human-centric lighting projects exist, including the railway and metro station project in Japan as well as the introduction of lighting schemes in offices to improve worker productivity.

Hoelzenbein says the market for human-centric lighting is in its infancy, and that development is still too few to predict how this market will evolve. However, he says that this will be “the next big thing” in lighting.

“Similarly [to the adoption of LEDs], it might be some time before we see these move from scientific projects to actual applications,” he says.

Questions or comments on this story? Contact engineering360editors@ihs.com

Related links:

IHS Lighting & LEDs

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The View From LightFair 2015

Smart Lighting Steals the Show at LightFair 2015

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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