Digital Systems Blog

Tunable White Technology Benefits Workplace Performance and Engagement

Tunable WhiteTunable White (TW) technology traditionally has been used to help designers achieve their aesthetic visions for a space, but recently its support of the human circadian rhythm has spurred its use in commercial real estate for applications beyond aesthetics.  Organizations are increasingly focused on improving workplace health and well-being as well as productivity, which in turn is prompting building owners and facility managers to incorporate TW technology into their lighting strategies.

Our Daily Dosage of Natural Light

It is widely known that natural light has a direct impact on our health, well-being, and productivity.  And with the majority of us spending 90% of our time indoors, people find it hard to get their daily dosage of natural light. Since light is the primary stimulus of our circadian clock, it is not hard to understand that all of this indoor time is muddling our internal clocks, known as our circadian system. While the buildings we work and live in are well-lit, traditional indoor lighting systems don’t vary light over the course of a day as natural outdoor lighting does. Our lack of natural light is creating adverse effects on our circadian system and has been linked to poor sleep, reduced concentration and depression.

Tunable White Technology Enables Human-Centric Lighting Applications

Human-centric lighting (HCL) applications powered by TW technology are being developed that consider the human body’s need for light and how natural light varies in intensity and color throughout the day. TW technology mimics natural daylight by producing the hues and brightness of nature during a 24-hour cycle. This mimicry can have a profound effect on humans by positively impacting the human body’s circadian rhythm, which is our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Cool white, with its higher proportions of blue light, can have a stimulating effect on people and help keep them alert; warm white with higher proportions of yellow can have a calming effect. The shifts help maintain the human body’s natural circadian rhythm and can aid in improving occupant concentration, performance, and overall health and well-being.

Office Workers More Alert, Vital and Energetic  

Researchers from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)  recently collaborated to publish “Light, entrainment and alertness: A case study in offices”,  a study that explores how light impacts alertness during the day and sleep quality at night in daytime office workers.  In previous studies, the team found that even in open offices with many, large windows, office workers were not receiving enough light to stimulate their circadian system during the day, due to factors such as season, cloud cover, desk orientation, and window shade position. In response to these findings, the research team theorized that supplemental electric lighting could be used to ensure that office workers receive enough light during the day and installed circadian-effective lighting for 68 study participants. The luminaires, mounted near the participants’ computer monitors delivered: (1) morning saturated blue light delivering a circadian stimulus (CS) of 0.4, (2) midday polychromatic white light, delivering a CS of 0.3, and (3) afternoon saturated red light, delivering a CS close to zero. Objective and subjective measures of rest–activity, sleep, vitality, and alertness were used to evaluate the lighting interventions. Results show that participants exhibited more consolidated rest–activity patterns, indicating better circadian entrainment, and woke up earlier during the intervention compared to baseline. The study also showed that office workers felt much less sleepy with the use of supplemental electric lighting and, as hypothesized, they also reported feeling significantly more vital, energetic, and alert compared to baseline.

According to Dr. Mariana G. Figueiro, director of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “Exposure to natural daylight is always best. But when that is not available, good quality artificial light — bluish light in the morning, and warmer yellowish light in the afternoon — to simulate what is happening outdoors will do.”  

Tunable White powered HCL applications benefit office workers by supporting their visual, emotional and biological needs. 

Osram Tunable White System

Osram offers a digital tunable white (TW) system based on DALI-2 that is designed for human-centric lighting (HCL) applications in educational, commercial office and healthcare settings. The system consists of an OPTOTRONIC® Tunable White two-channel Programmable LED Driver, OSRAM Tunable White Wallstation, PrevaLED® Tunable White Light Engine, and optional OSRAM Control Power Pack. 

The TW Wallstation sends preset scene commands to the OPTOTRONIC TW LED Driver which is preprogrammed to specific Correlated Color Temperatures (CCT) between 2700K-6500K and light intensities between 1-100%. Wallstation lighting scenes can be reprogrammed by the end user offering the flexibility that some customers require. The PrevaLED TW Light Engine is recommended as part of this solution for optimal performance, however, the OPTOTRONIC TW LED Driver can be paired with third-party tunable white light engines. The TW System can be used as a standalone system or as part of a connected solution.

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Topics: Human Centric Lighting