One of my goals at CES this year was to build a better understanding of the C&C flow behind the home automation protocols showing there (Zigbee/CLA, Z-Wave, HomeKit-based solutions, Bluetooth-hybrid mesh, etc.) in order to suss out the feasibility of home-rolling a circadian-adaptive lighting scheduler driven by a simple switch / dimmer interface (Lutron showed something like this at CES this year but for Zigbee).
This, to me, is the real use case for RGB(W) addressable lighting, not blinking when a sports team wins or for psychedelic 'lava lamp' looks, but this arguably more practical use gets about 1% of the ink that more frivolous applications do, even from the early adopters and reviewers in the industry that jump in hard on this tech.
What I want is a single on/off or dimmer hardware controller that can query a color and intensity lookup table (with a few more inputs, taking into account geolocation and time of year,) to determine the appropriate shade of white (see table below) at that given moment, then tell an arbitrary group of lights what to do. Oh, and I don't want it to be PC-based, 'cloud'-based, or outside my LAN.
Long story short, that's a non-trivial project but ongoing research [Lexar Lighting] indicates it’s worthwhile to consider an approach that approximates something like this in your own home/office, even if it is a pain in the ass to run it for the time being (currently, I’m manually bumping down a color table throughout the day in the LIFX iOS controller*)….
For something applicable to users of LIFX, Hue, or similar:
* Not an implicit endorsement for LIFX - despite the hardware having lighting capabilities that handily outstrip what the Hue system can do, the product is half-finished and mine are dying a slow heat death already. I’m not the only one, too — I'd say go Hue for now ... I might when these LIFX finally kick the bucket.
BLUE LIGHT WHEN YOU NEED IT
The research mentioned in the Lexar blog refers to blue light exposure in the 470-525nm range, and while those frequencies may be present in broader-spectrum (“full-spectrum”) incandescents, the discrete nature of LED lighting frequency output doesn’t guarantee sufficient intensities at those wavelengths, even when the light is set to a blue that appears to be in the neighborhood. The incandescents, on the other hand, are too broad-spectrum to be useful in this regard, as they’d need something like 10,000 lux output (uncomfortable to be around), indicating something more specialized.
If you really want to use blue light exposure as part of a bio-adaptive lighting plan or to combat seasonal affective disorder (the “winter blues”), I like the Phillips BLU energy lights …. (there are a few but this one is stripped down to just a brick of ~480nm lights, and, for the time being, not controllable outside its single button.)
… I’ve been using one of these seasonally for the last 4 or so years and, anecdotally, I think it helps in avoiding a premature melatonin response (crashing, or the ’nap reflex') during the deepest darkest winter afternoons here in Brooklyn. That and coffee do the job nicely.
On a related note, my friend Mark (his project Spireworks is germane to the ongoing wrestling he and I have been doing with spatial approaches to lighting control) tipped me to this broad software approach [PDF] from amBX, a Philips R&D spinoff (last Philips namecheck, I promise) ... but I'll be damned if I'm going to have a PC OS behind my home lighting ... although maybe that's the root of my problem here.
... NOT WHEN YOU DON'T
You may have seen advice on limiting screen usage late at night for sleep reasons. Part of the logic there is to minimize stimulation right before going to bed, but another important bit is related to the light exposure topic at hand. The 'white' backlight in most modern LCD devices is a blue LED, yellow (phosphor)-coated to produce something more like white, and it is poorly filtered by your LCD screen, meaning you're pumping blue light into your eyes, right before bed.
I use f.lux on my Mac to address this, and I'd put it on my phone if I were the jailbreaking type. f.lux, if you're not familiar, applies an amber color profile, system-wide, any time the sun is down.
I was at first put off by the dying-fluorescent look of f.lux doing its thing late at night — it's got a decidedly 'burned' look. As someone who (somewhat excessively) calibrates monitors, I at first found trying to do anything image-related pretty frustrating after sundown, but Mark's comment on this made a believer out of me — he said, 'it reminds me that I probably shouldn't be using the computer then anyway'. Monitor tint as behavioral modification feedback. I like it.
The reality is that sometimes you need to work late, and for that, f.lux offers an option to temporarily disable the effect for a given app or until sunrise, and in so doing, consciously commit yourself to some light exposure that is likely to keep you up later.
Startup lighting outfit Sunn look like they're off to a good start with their round, diffuse, sun-synced LED array. This is a 19" or 24" round wall- or ceiling-mounted fixture with C&C protocol TBD that claims LIFX and Hue integration via their companion smartphone app.
These are still a ways off from v2.5 aka safe waters and I'm once bitten already, but if you're feeling generous, my birthday is in April and Hannukah is generally in December. FYI.
And while we're on the topic of things to buy me ... it's not adaptive per se but damn do I want one of these Coelux artificial skylights:
Similarly, this solar-powered reflector design, Lucy, while very much in the 'preorder while we design this thing' phase, makes a lot of sense for 'sun-shifting' in configurations where natural light is available but is too indirect to be used as illumination.
... like many crowdfunded, or preorder-driven business models, much remains to be seen about the quality of the implementation, but I love this idea.
I've been following the progress of adaptive lighting startup Svet for a while now ... they've got a Zigbee / BLE, 1000 lumen, 1800K-8000K, high CRI (90-96) A21 or BR30 bulb on pre-order, with (the now usual) options for Android and iOS control, but the new part is the ability to configure individual lamps with specific brightness and color breakpoints throughout the day.
I very much like the idea of offloading the configuration into the lamp and then being able to use the wall switch to control on/off without interrupting the settings, although the usual 'IoS' caveats apply - if the company goes out of business or stops supporting the app of your choice, you're stuck with dumb $70 lightbulb, or, perhaps worse, a bulb with a nonsense setting that you can't change any longer.
LIFX recently announced a line of 'Day to Dusk' bulbs, while simultaneously rolling out the same 'Day to Dusk' capability through their iOS app for existing bulbs. The new lamps are 800lm and 1500-4000K, a bit less bright than the full 1100lm LIFX lamps and with much more limited capabilities in both whites and colors.
The Day to Dusk feature is a 4-breakpoint curve a bit like f.lux's capability — the events are 'Wake Up', 'Day', 'Evening' , and 'Night Light'. You currently can't customize the settings for each breakpoint - only the time they occur, although LIFX support tells me customization is in the works. You also can't add breakpoints - only disable one or more.
I'm currently testing this on a mix of LIFX lamps and I'll follow up when I have a more of an opinion. Reserving judgement at the moment as the feature is very new.