These tiles each hold 288 LEDs, which are able to mimic the motions of clouds and colors of the sky.
If you’re like the majority of America, you spend a large part of your weekdays under fluorescent lights. The worst part about working in an office is the lighting. It’s true that light is supposed to make you feel awake, but fluorescent lights are a different story. Around afternoon time, you get that drowsy feeling. It’s what prompts you to get a second cup of coffee. It’s also what prompts you to notice how draining and depressing the fluorescent lights are.
You especially notice this once you finally get off work and enter the outside world. You’re enveloped in warm sunlight (if you’re lucky) and remember what it’s like to be human again. Because, let’s face it, when we’re sitting at our desks typing away, we are closer to robots than humans. Not that that’s a bad thing.
It’s the sunlight and the sky that make us truly feel awake and alive. But most of us don’t see the outside world at work, unless we manage to get a desk close to a window.
For the rest of us, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have brought the sky indoors with a lighting solution for offices that makes a sky effect on the ceiling. It is made of LED lights which mimic natural lighting conditions, including passing clouds and different shades of blue and gray.
The lights are 20-inch by 20-inch tiles, each with 288 LEDs and diffuser films. The LEDs are colored red, blue, green, and white, making them able to produce more than 16 million hues.
Dr. Matthias Bues, head of the department, said, “LEDs allow us to simulate these dynamic changes in lighting in a way that is not directly obvious to the naked eye. Otherwise, the lighting might distract people from their work. But it does need to fluctuate enough to promote concentration and heighten alertness.”
Having a slowly changing sky above you should lessen the chance of office lethargy, as the typical fluorescent lights wouldn’t be frying everyone. But the lights might also tease us about our inability to be outside. We might look up and see the LEDs as a depressing reminder that we’re trapped, only strengthening our longing to step outside the building.