No one seems to be talking about those “energy saving” CFL lights any more … the future will be LED lighting.
“This is the move from the last industrial-age analog technology to a digital technology,” said Fred Maxik, the chief technology officer with the Lighting Science Group Corporation, one of many newer players in the field.
The efforts start with energy efficiency and cost savings but go far beyond replacing inefficient incandescent bulbs. Light’s potential to heal, soothe, invigorate or safeguard people is being exploited to introduce products like the blanket, versions of which are offered by General Electric and in development at Philips, the Dutch electronics giant.
Innovations on the horizon range from smart lampposts that can sense gas hazards to lights harnessed for office productivity or even to cure jet lag. Digital lighting based on light-emitting diodes — LEDs — offers the opportunity to flit beams delicately across stages like the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge — creating a light sculpture more elegant than the garish marketers’ light shows on display in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus and the Shibuya district in Tokyo.
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As for health applications, the Lighting Research Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has focused its research on the physiological and psychological impacts of light. This might lead to light fixtures in hotel rooms and elsewhere that enhance sleep or restore the circadian rhythms of jet-lagged travelers.
Philips’s lighting division is working on a product that allows people with psoriasis to have light treatments at home, not in the hospital. It has also introduced a blue-light-emitting poultice to relieve muscle pain by releasing the nitric oxide in the patient’s system, stimulating blood flow.
“This is where the promise is,” said Dr. Siminovitch of the U.C. Davis center. “The promise is going to be on well-being, wellness, biology — lighting starts doing something for us that is inherently different.”