After years working to produce a lightbulb which produces a more natural light ‘like sunlight’, a Gloucestershire business has achieved just that – a product experts think could change all our indoor lives for the better.
At a time of year when many struggle with the lack of sunlight and concerns about over exposure to artificial light, the development of Ray Lighting to ‘create sunshine indoors’ is welcome news.
And so confident is Jason Wilkin, the former RAF electrical engineer who developed the product and co-founded Ray Lighting, that he predicts it has the potential to quickly become a multi-million pound business, with the firm sinking £1.5 million into stock in readiness.
'These bulbs are the first to develop LED technology beyond its traditional blue base, creating a more balanced form of light that won’t over-stimulate, or skew colours,' said Wilkin.
'Not only that, but they’ve combined it with zero-flicker, something which has been a major concern for LED – hence the recent change to European legislation.
'This results in a source that won’t aggravate existing conditions such as anxiety, ADHD or epilepsy. The unique blend of technologies is in every one of the RAY products.'
According to business analysts Reogma there are an estimated 600 million light bulbs in the UK and growing, with the market worth an estimated £2.7 billion annually.
The NHS recommends light therapy as a form of treatment for what has become known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), with special no-flicker 'white-light' – of the type Ray Lighting delivers with the treatment is also acknowledged by the likes of the charity Mind.
Research by Harvard Medical School, referenced by the business, concludes that blue light is linked to shorter sleep patterns which can impact on out health in the form of depression, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
It is early days, but the Gloucester company has already targeted London and the M5 corridor, with customers including Microsoft and trendy London coffee shop WatchHouse. The lighting has also been used in a Warner Brothers' movie. It features in fittingly titled film, Emperor of Light, starring Olivia Coleman and directed by Sam Mendes.
‘We wanted to create sunlight inside. So, we have reinvented the light bulb to make it create light that is quite simply better for you,’ said Simon McCune, who co-founded the Gloucester-based company with Wilkin.
He says part of the motivation to work on the technology is not just to improve the quality of the light in homes and offices, but also to boost health.
‘We do not believe the current trend towards LED lights is good for people. We know about the impact of blue light from our phones, and how this affects our sleep patterns and cognitive behaviour.
'What a lot of people don’t realise is that although LED light looks white, it is made up of the same blue light at its base, and has the same over-stimulating effect, impacting everything from sleep to eyesight and physical health.
‘At this time of year many of us struggle with a lack of exposure to sunlight, and over-exposure to poor quality artificial light. Symptoms can range from headaches and low mood to anxiety and worse,’ he said.
Wilkin, who himself suffers from light sensitivity, began exploring the reasons behind what might be causing his own symptoms and as an electrical engineer became fascinated by the potential – not just for health benefits but also for energy saving.
As his understanding of light and its impact on
humans developed he came to realise that a light source in balance with natural
sunlight, could also help sufferers of what is known as seasonal affective
disorder, or SAD, as well as numerous other conditions.
People spend 90 per cent of their lives inside. Good lighting can have an incredible impact on not just your health and wellbeing, but your quality of life.
‘From the spaces we work to those we live in, if you spend thousands of pounds fitting out offices and redecorating homes, it seems mad not to consider the quality of light with which we render these spaces. This simple technology could transform the way we feel within our environments,' said Wilkin.
The product, Ray Lighting, is high end, long-life and environmentally friendly due to its low energy usage. It is available to everyone as a single bulb (RAY recommends that you start by just changing the bulbs in your resting spaces, such as bedside lamps) to a fully designed and integrated lighting system.