Working Under Simulated Sky Light 'Extremely Pleasant': Study

Sky Ceiling
Creative Commons Fraunhofer IAO

Researchers say people working in an office under a dynamic luminous ceiling that seeks to replicate the feeling of being outdoors found the experience “extremely pleasant.”

The four day study by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO involved ten volunteers carrying out their daily work under a lighting surface of 30 cm by 60 cm.

The ceiling extends across the entire room and simulates lighting conditions that resemble those produced by passing clouds.

The lighting remained static on the first day, fluctuated gently on the second, fluctuated rapidly on the third and was selectable on the fourth. Eighty percent chose the fast, dynamic lighting.

Lighting Details

The researchers use a combination of red, blue, green and white LEDs in order to produce the full light spectrum, generating more than 16 million hues.

They note white light emiting diodes (LEDs) are more energy efficient than the colored lights, which keeps the energy costs to a minimum.

"Each tile comprises an LED board with 288 light emitting diodes," said Dr. Matthias Bues, head of department at the IAO.

"The board is mounted on the ceiling. A diffuser film in matt white is attached approximately 30cm beneath the LEDs and ensures that the individual points of light are not perceived as such. This diffuser film creates homogenous lighting that illuminates the room throughout."

Effect on Employees

Bues said that the ceiling would not be distracting to employees.

"The 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," said Bues.

The virtual sky currently costs approximately 1,000 euros per square meter, but this price will come down, since the more units are produced, the more cost-effective each luminous ceiling will be, the researchers said.

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