Most lights still have two settings—on and off—despite the fact that changing lighting can easily impact how much energy or focus we have, how well we sleep, and how easily we wake up in the morning. A new lamp from California College of the Arts student Quin Boucher is designed to shift throughout the day, providing exactly the right color and intensity of light for everything you do.
The LHT lamp wakes you up in the morning with a bright blue light. "Compare how hard it is to wake up on a cloudy day versus a summer day," Boucher says. "Every morning this lamp is just going to be blue, simulating that summer morning."
As the day goes on, the light can switch from a task light, to a "calm" setting, to a purple-hued "intimate" setting calculated to cast the most flattering light on you and a partner. Half an hour before bedtime, the light switches to red to help prepare you for sleep and remind you to stop staring at your digital devices.
"Red is the only wavelength of light that doesn’t affect melatonin production," Boucher explains. "If you’ve been up late working on your computer and try to go sleep but just toss and turn, it’s because you’ve been blasting white light in your eyes telling your body that it’s high noon." Looking at a typical white light at night may also cause depression.
All of the settings and colors on the LHT can be controlled through a smartphone app. The lamp is also designed to be mobile, so it can come with you from task to task. A built-in speaker in the lamp plays music to help customize your environment further.
Boucher's design is just a thesis project for now, but he hopes to eventually produce it. He originally conceived of the design as he was researching ways to change perception of small spaces. "I learned about an awful method called 'white room torture' where an individual is confined to an all white room and served white food by guards in white jumpsuits," he says. "This use of light as a weapon lead me down the path of light and its effect on the brain."
His design isn't the only light to try to affect mood; special lights have been used to treat seasonal affective disorder for years, and more recently, Philips introduced a set of Wi-Fi-connected lightbulbs called Hue that can also be adjusted via apps. But Boucher wanted to take the concept further by adding music, making it mobile, and by making the lamp an object someone could touch and hold, creating a personal connection.
"Hue is just the tip of an iceberg," he says. "It was an introduction to adaptive and expressive lighting."