Lighting the way to safe, effective paths

103px-Light_bulb_icon_svgJosie has been spending a lot of time in hardware stores lately, and she came across this item in the lighting aisle ( that she wanted to share. Remember the “clap on, clap off” lights? This is even better! (If these new light bulbs are advertised on TV, I apologise for the repeat here….not much TV in our house.)

These new light bulbs fit into regular light fixtures, and they connect to an “app” that allows you to control them with your phone. We love this! It’s possible to program the light so that it comes on when your phone is in the room, and then goes out when you leave. (Carrie thinks that this will help her to find her phone – it will be in the only room in the house with a light on!) You can also set it up on a timer so it looks like you’re home when you’re not.

But wait….it gets even more exciting…you can program the bedside lamp to come on in the morning before you wake up, cuing your body that morning has arrived. Believe it or not, this actually makes getting up easier! I’m not kidding….research has shown that the human body uses “zeitgebers” (German for “time-givers”, or “cues”) to regulate sleep/wake patterns. In the winter, when it’s dark in the morning, your body wants to sleep. A light (or “morning” noises) will help to convince your sleeping brain that morning has arrived.

Is this light bulb “ergonomic”? Does it “fit work to people”? We could argue that it does, and here is why. The act of turning the light on and off isn’t really an issue. It’s unlikely that reaching under the lampshade to push the switch, a couple of times a day, will lead to a shoulder injury. The issue is that getting to the light fixture in the dark may involve navigating around items that you can’t see. It’s not so long ago that we had blocks, toys, and board games strewn on the floor in our living room. As I write this, I can almost feel the pressure of those hard plastic blocks against the soles of my feet. And that’s not all…more than once I’ve knocked over a glass of water that was sitting beside the lamp, as I fumbled around in the dark to turn on the light. Cleaning that mess up was work I didn’t really want to do. Turning out the light while I am still in the room was always bit ineffective, resulting in more than one cracked shin and stubbed toe. If I could have had the light come on when I walked into the room, and go out after I left, my “mom-job” would have been just a bit easier.

Could such a product help in a workplace, aside from a home office? Probably. We have some corporate office clients where people working late have to fling their arms around periodically to prevent the motion-detectors from shutting down the lights. (OK, we admit, it’s funny, and we love that this arm-waving is a bit like a workplace stretch, specially designed for people who sit still for too long.) Warehouses often use dim lighting, increasing the lighting levels only when workers are present. To be honest, I don’t know whether this new product will be cost-effective or not, but it is definitely something I would not have imagined, even 5-10 years ago. These are exciting times for ergonomists! What other applications “highlight” innovation?

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