Internet and lighting: 3 things they share

December 5, 2013

At TP1, we love the web, but we also love lighting. At first glance, there aren’t many similarities, but these two domains actually have at least 3 things in common.

Our encyclopedias and shopping carts have been mostly digital for a dozen or more years. So have our lamps.

You already know about LEDs, those tiny, bright lights that began to be introduced into our homes many years ago. An LED light is neither a filament wire heated until it glows (like classic light bulbs), nor a gas­filled tubed (like energy saving bulbs). Rather, it’s a diode… which is an electrical component!

Long gone are the old­school flashlights with three batteries and a bulb! The best new flashlights run with an electronic micro­controller circuit. For example, HDS flashlights recognize the battery and adjust current regulation accordingly. Consequently, users can select from four intensity levels, program the flashlight to turn off after 10 minutes or require users to click the tailcap button three times to “unlock” it.

Perhaps you want the brightness of your flashlight to gradually drop as the battery nears the end of its charge or rather, stay bright until the very end? The Armytek Predator Pro lets you choose the current regulation pattern. In fact, you define the number of intensity levels as well. You can even choose the speed of the stroboscope mode.

At home, you can hook up your chandelier to your iPhone. Philips Hue light bulbs can be connected to your wi­fi network, enabling you to modify their brightness levels ­ and even their colour ­ with a few swipes of a smartphone app.

Tweeting before bed may ruin the quality of your sleep. Blue light is potentially stronger than a cup of coffee.

It’s true! Sipping hot tea in front of a roaring fire will put you to sleep faster than surfing the ‘net on your computer. Why? The blue light emanating from the screen affects production of dopamine, the “sleep hormone”.

“What blue light?”, you reply. “My screen gives off white light, not blue.” Yes, and no. Many screens today are backlit with white LEDs, which are made from blue LED lights wrapped in a layer of fluorescent yellow. The white light they produce has a blue­ish tint and will spike blue on the light spectrum.

This blue light actually has a positive benefit, in that it stimulates the brain, even if you’re blind.

???????????Does that mean your tweets are more clever when your screen wallpaper is also blue? In any case, when taking a long drive, a blue­lit dashboard will help you stay more alert. It may even be said that blue light is as effective as a good cup of coffee.

Finding the right light bulb is as complicated as setting the right privacy settings on Facebook. But 100 years ago, finding good gas lighting was as just hard.

Has anyone mastered Facebook’s privacy settings? I know I haven’t yet regulated all my apps, explored all the sub­menus, clicked on all the secret links and researched all those abstract sections.

Finding the right light bulb is just as complicated, especially in recent years. In addition to different forms and bases, different technologies have also emerged. There are classic light bulbs, halogen, compact fluorescent (energy savers) and now, LED. And with new technology, comes new information for the consumer to process. This one offers more brightness, but has a tendency to overheat. This one will burn out quickly, but it also illuminates a larger area. This model requires some fiddling with the wires, but this model can be screwed right in. Not to forget the onslaught of numbers and letters on the packaging that are supposed to help you make a better decision: 800 lumens, 80 lm/W, CCT 3000K, 85 CRI. Most salespeople don’t even know what to make of that alphabet soup.

This confusion started long ago. I wrote in my personal blog about how well gas lamps worked in the 1900s and how many choices consumers had. There was the flat “batswing” burner and the tubular flame burner, the upright incandescent mantle and the inverted incandescent mantle, and the intensive burner, among others. Each one, of course, offering a multitude of glass chimney shapes, burners, features, etc. Most people simply bought what they could, mixing and matching the burners, glass chimneys and incandescent mantles as needed. Seems as if lighting your dining room with gas lighting really did have a lot in common with Facebook configurations. You do what you have to in order to see your friends’ faces, right?