Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD
I’m not sure how the weather has been where you are, but here in Scotland, we’ve had an unusually warm spell and spring has definitely arrived. However, being Scotland, we could have inches of snow before the week is out. The days are definitely getting lighter for longer though, and that always seems to give people’s moods a lift. All animals and plants have a circadian rhythm, or body clock, which determines our sleeping and feeding habits. These rhythms are scientifically proven to be affected by heat and light. The lack of natural light in many workplaces and short sunlight hours in winter can often detrimentally affect the mood of people, and the arrival of spring and extra daylight can definitely improve feelings.
One of the great things about LEDs is their flexibility. This magazine’s special focus is on LED lighting, but if we were more accurate it would have a much broader scope – LED magic would be more apt. LEDs have evolved far beyond pure lighting. Engineers working with scientists have developed LEDs that mimic natural daylight, alleviating the depressing effect of shorter days. They can even “tune” people to be more alert during working hours, and the same lighting can be used to make us more relaxed when we get home. Since all plants and animals have a body clock, it’s not just people that LEDs can affect. Banks of LEDs can and have been programmed to provide light to mimic the optimal growing cycle for plants, quickening their maturing and providing a larger amount of crops from each plant. Indoor hydroponics facilities in the form of vertical farming may help solve the global hunger problem caused by expanding populations, make food cheaper, use less water and other resources, and bring crop growing closer to the consumer, meaning less carbon in the environment.
LEDs can also enhance safety. Dynamic headlights can now be found in premium automobiles. The headlights of the vehicle can automatically adjust to switch off the LEDs that may dazzle an oncoming driver, or to focus the lamps on the road at all times, even when cresting a hill. Prestige automotive manufacturers are also working to tailor internal vehicle lighting to keep drivers alert and to enhance branding – the LED glow inside the vehicle might well end up as distinctive as the badge or the grill to identify a marque of the future.
The use cases described above barely scratch the surface of the potential of LEDs. All that and they are longer lasting, more rugged and use much less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs. And at the heart of every LED installation is power. LEDs offer a challenge to power designers, as they are used as an integral part of the control circuit to give many of the benefits previously detailed.
European Editor, PSD