Intelligent Energy

Lights that heal

Lights that heal

Posting in Cancer

Philips Research is designing hospital lighting that assists healing, reduces stress and mimics the 24-hour cycle. Fascinating rhythm.

Adjusting the lighting in the PET-CT 'uptake' room.

Royal Philips Electronics is developing hospital lighting that helps patients heal and reduces their stress levels, as part of its Ambient Experience (AE) program.

The Dutch electronics giant has outfitted the PET-CT "uptake" room at the Dutch Cancer Institute in Amsterdam with a controllable lighting system that allows a patient to adjust light color and intensity during the stressful, solitary, hour-long wait after a radioactive injection prior to an exploratory scan for cancer.

Stimulus "doses" for neurological patients include lighting and video.

"A well-accepted research questionnaire found statistically significant improvements in anxiety in the AE group as compared to the control group," said Murray Gillies of Philips Research in a press release - not hard proof, but headed in the right direction.

The reduction in anxiety also improved the quality of the scan image, according to Gillies.

The system includes a relaxing soundtrack and slow moving nature-themed video that Philips describes in the press release as, "Aesthetically pleasing and mildly engaging, rather than entertaining - designed to keep the mind occupied, but not over stimulated. (It shows) nature within a loose story line, for example of a balloon ride across the countryside or a canal boat trip."

Nature video and adjustable lighting in PET-CT 'uptake' room.

Philips Research is trialing the same system at its ExperienceLab in Eindhoven, Holland where the company recently opened an area that recreates a hospital. ExperienceLab is a collaborative center where other companies and organizations including psychologists, sociologists and designers participate in trials in healthcare, retail, lifestyle and hospitality research.

The hospital area includes patients' rooms equipped with LED lighting that mimics the natural 24-hour cycle, which, according to Philips, assists the recovery process - demonstrating that LEDs can do more than simply save energy. Philips has shown similar LED benefits to sleep. The room lighting is part of Philips' "Adaptive Healing" concept that "doses" various sensory stimulus including lighting and video for neurological patients like stroke and brain injury victims.

"There is a large body of evidence that suggests that the more you stay connected to the natural rhythms of time and nature, the better your chances of speed recovery," Philips states. "So all elements of the room are tied to a central piece of software, programmed with a 24-hour cycle, which dictates how each element works to create an 'adaptive daily rhythm' - influencing for example the light levels and content on the interactive orientation screen."

Even the videos - which for stroke patients emphasize familiar places - relate to the time of day. Sounds like the whole project itself could play against its own soundtrack: Fascinating Rhythm.

Photos: Philips

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure