Designing Light for Human Comfort 

Today, people spend as much as 87% of their lives indoors. Whether that’s at home, in an office, a hotel, or a care facility, we’re inside, away from natural light, and often reliant on artificial lighting. Human-Centric lighting is a term used to describe lighting designed around that user experience, with comfort, productivity, and well-being in mind.  

While the exact application of human centric lighting changes depending on whether it is applied in home, work, hospitality, or care environments – the end-result of using design and light modulation to adjust lighting throughout the day remains true. And, while that’s been out of reach for most of history, today, technologies like Summa Systems, a light management and automation platform, make it affordable, accessible, and automated.  


What is Human Centric Lighting?  

Human-Centric lighting first appeared in the late 1980s, as researchers looked into the link between light and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Today, we know that light impacts how people feel, their mood, their ability to concentrate, and their ability to sleep. Light, or light color, impacts circadian, neuroendocrine, and neurobehavioral responses, which in-turn, affect the full range of the human experience.  

For example, most humans are most alert between the hours of 2 PM and 8 PM, no matter their normal sleep/wake cycles and no matter what other period of the day they are most alert in. Most researchers track this to natural light exposure, with high levels of blue and red light. Although there are variations, and alertness will vary based on exposure to light, rest periods, and lunch – most people are significantly more productive when the sun is low, and they get a maximum of both blue and red light.  

Alertness and Productivity – Exposure to blue light causes increases in alertness and focus – which makes sense considering it’s found in natural daylight. So, using blue light in offices during working hours can help workers to feel alert and energized. Yet, using it in home and care spaces can disrupt sleep and sleeping patterns.  

Relaxation and Sleep Switching to dimmer and darker lighting, with red and blue tones, helps people to relax and move towards sleep at night. Calming and relaxing light normally results from a large shift between day and night lighting and color, intensity, and brightness, allowing the brain to react as though it is naturally getting darker.  

The Visible Light Spectrum – Light is measured in wavelengths, by the nanometer (nm). Depending on color, the human eye can detect wavelengths between 380 and 730 nm. Most people can see blue light, starting at about 470 (nm). That’s a significant increase in sensitivity over yellow light, which normally only starts being visible at 555nm.  

Good Lighting is Good Design

While lighting technology is important, it relies on good design, driven by a human team. Importantly, light also has to maintain its core purpose of creating visibility and comfort. If people are alert and focused in a work environment, they also have to be able to see everything they need to work. If people are relaxed and comfortable in a hotel, they also have to be able to safely navigate rooms, doorways, and stairways. Lighting must be practical first. Yet, it’s easy to implement the basics of human centric design using automation and AI.  

Summa Systems blends innovation with proven technology, to deliver AI-driven lighting management, with central control from a cloud dashboard. We blend standard LEDs with drivers, pucks, and sensors for wireless connectivity – so you get unlimited insight and control of lighting and atmosphere, complete with the hands-free approach of AI.   The Summa Dashboard offers presets to create human centric lighting, with color, light intensity, and tones designed for specific settings such as blue tones and medium light designed to focus attention for conferences and meetings, soft and warm light for relaxing over dinner, or cheerful but mellow light for waking up with breakfast.

Human Centric Lighting is based on the Black Body Line, requiring 3 tunable colors. At the moment Summa Systems is the only company in the world capable of offering that. With the Summa system you can adapt the right light settings depending on age, color needs and demographics. For example, in an elderly home, a greater part of the residents has been exposed to ultraviolet light for many years, causing yellowing or browning of the eyes. Meaning in the elderly’s room the light has to be more blue for better color accuracy. But when someone enters the room from the hallway, mostly a caretaker, the light needs to turn less blue to accommodate the duties of the caretaker. That light adaption can be triggered by using a sensor at the doorway. All of this can be automated with the Summa system. Producing the perfect light and seamless adaption with daylight as a reference, creating a real lighting cycle.

With Summa’s AI, you can switch between these presets, or build your own, to seamlessly update lighting scenarios throughout the day.   Eventually, better controlling the intensity and color of lighting improves how humans feel, work, and react in those spaces. And, with Summa, it’s a simple matter of building a program and letting it run, so your lighting is optimized for the people using your spaces – whether to work, collaborate, relax, or do business.  

Please contact us if you would like to know how Summa Systems can help you create Human Centric Lighting.