Light Improves Life: Advancements Lead to Productivity, Well-Being

Light Improves Life: Advancements Lead to Productivity, Well-Being

This piece was originally published in the March/April 2019 issue of electroindustry.

Chris Holstein, Vice President of Product Management, Universal Lighting Technologies

In our technologically advanced society, many things that make our lives better often go unnoticed as a part of our daily routines. One advanced technology we all experience in multiple ways every day is light.

Change with the Times

For a number of years, the lighting industry focused on how to make available light more efficient and provide longer lifetimes. We went from magnetic ballasts to electronic ballasts to fluorescent tube technology, which then advanced from inefficient T12 to high-efficiency T8 and T5 lamps. To maximize these products we use controls and focus on energy management and tying the lighting into building automation systems that trigger lighting output when occupants are present and dim the lights when sufficient daylight enters the space.

Today, we have seen two disruptive technologies change the way we view light by expanding the capability of light. One of these—LED lighting—is well known and widely accepted. LED lighting provides many benefits: high efficacy, flexibility (in design application), inherent controllability, system integration (from a traditional retrofit to new fixtures), extended longevity, and the ability to produce adjustable lumen output, color temperatures, and light spectrum.

The other emerging disrupter is the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows us to live in a dynamic connected world with technology seamlessly controlling many of the devices in our daily lives, including our lighting systems.

Set the Mood with Lighting

The combination of these advancements leads us to the newest buzzword—human-centric lighting—supported by recent studies on how we can manipulate our environment with light. Studies have shown office workers with direct access to natural light are more productive.1 As we know, the intensity and color of daylight changes throughout the day. Our eyes sense this, triggering the release of serotonin during the day and melatonin at night, creating our circadian rhythms. Lighting designers can leverage these studies and meet the desired lighting needs of an office space—and, through controllability, designers can mimic the changes of natural light for all within that space. Because of the success of these studies, we are finding we can control productivity, alertness, and the quality of our daily experience in an office setting.

There have been many cases in which introducing high-quality lighting results in happier, more productive people:

  • Hospitals, using human-centric lighting, reduced the length of stay for patients2 and helped calm dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients.3
  • Shift workers under updated lighting conditions are sleeping better during the day and being more productive at night.4
  • Schools are using controls to adjust the mood of the classroom and help children remain alert.5

This is just the beginning with IoT. In the future, our environment will start to adjust and learn, and lighting infrastructure can help with emergency response. It can also recognize an individual and automatically adjust the lighting to that person’s most productive settings.

As our industry focuses on controlling the aspects of our systems, we are elevating our products to a new standard. Yes, we are still concerned with efficiency and long-life reliability, but we now have the ability to change and affect how people feel and how they interact within their environment. These advances allow us all to provide a high quality of light to allow our customers a high quality of life.

  1. “Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study,” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, June 2014,
  2. “Hospital lighting and patient’s health: The influence of daylight and artificial light on the circadian rhythm, length of stay and pain levels of hospital patients,” 2018,
  3. “The Right Lighting Can Calm Alzheimer’s Patients,” HealthDay, July 24, 2018,
  4. “Light and Shift Work,” Lighting Research Center,
  5. “Illuminating the Effects of Dynamic Lighting on Student Learning,” May 2012,

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