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Lighting ­Up the Lives of the Elderly - Adaptively

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Researchers working on the European Union-funded Aladin project say lighting that can adapt automatically to meet a user's needs could have significant benefits for anyone who spends long periods in artificially-lit buildings. "Studies have shown that the quality and type of lighting can have a significant impact on our health and comfort," says project coordinator Edith Maier, a researcher at Austria's Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences.

Aladin united academic and industrial researchers from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Romania in an effort to develop an ambient lighting system that can intelligently adapt to a person's needs and wishes. The system uses biosensors worn by the occupants in a room or building to determine the lighting's settings.

The researchers want to use the technology to improve the well being of the elderly, people suffering from age-related illnesses, and people with reduced mobility. Maier says poor lighting can exacerbate vision problems and reading difficulties, cause depression, and disrupt sleep.

Most adaptive ambient lighting systems rely on a preset-time cycle to brighten and dim at certain times. The Aladin system uses data from sensors in a glove worn by the user to measure heart rate and skin conductance response, which varies when a user is active or at rest. The bio-data tells the system when to be in a bright active setting and when to create a more subdued, relaxing atmosphere.

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