The Lightshower™ is a long term project; version 1 was officially launched in 2011 after it had been patented. My artistic work with light and colour prior to 2010 involving screenprints on glass led me to explore the effects of self-chosen colour and mood. I set out building a domed construction that allowed for immersion in colours selected with a computer mouse. The seemingly endless space produced by coloured light projection onto the dome had a profound effect on me. It appeared the sensitivity of my eyes had increased. In order to test this on other people, I invited the University of Groningen and the University of Technology in Eindhoven to liaise with me.
Three versions of the Lightshower™ have been built so far. All of them have been adapted according to feedback resulting from research at TU/e, University of Technology Eindhoven (linked with Philips) and the faculty of Experimental Psychology in Groningen led by prof. Addy Johnson.
The latest version is now ready for use in your practice to test the effects of self-chosen colour on relaxation and well-being in general.
The Lightshower™ was built to increase wellbeing; it is not a medical instrument.
Next to this the Lightshower™ is very suitable to support physiotherapy as patients will benefit from the relaxing qualities of self-chosen coloured light. ADHD patients, people suffering from mild depression could be additional targetgroups. They would use the Lightshower for light and colour therapy.
Research at the department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Groningen has indicated that self-chosen colours induce relaxation. This was shown through increased levels of Alpha waves. The Tu/e discovered that participants were keen to use it again as they found the effects very pleasant.
These are benefits for your patients that could potentially add value to your practice and thus differentiate you from others.
The overall measurements of the Lightshower™ are: 1.20 x 1.20 x 1.60m.
The participant’s head comfortably fits through this opening while resting on a headrest in a lightly reclining position. The participant is then surrounded by a backlit disk forming the horizon of the landscape and an indirectly lit hemisphere representing the sky.
The participants’ hands determine the separate colors of the horizon and sky thus creating a landscape with two light colours in any combination and intensity.
The values of light and colours chosen by the participant can be viewed on a specially designed interface and stored accordingly for future duplication or as data source for research.
The Dutch foundation SOLG (stichting onderzoek licht en gezondheid) showed a keen interest and invited me to exhibit the Lightshower™ during their congress on light and health in Eindhoven. (2010) SOLG is a prominent organisation in research in light and health in Holland.
The Lightshower™ version 2 was shown on the International Conference Braingear 2011 in Groningen and received international acclaim when it was put on prof.Andi Miah’s website. Miah is a Professor in Ethics & Emerging Technologies and Director of the Creative Futures Institute at the University of the West of Scotland
In 2012 the Lightshower™ received a grant for the conference Light and behaviour Eindhoven and was shown in the Philips factory during GLOW.
GLOW is the annual international lightfestival in Eindhoven.(2010)
In 2012 a NIOFF subsidy for innovation was received as well as a Pudding voucher subsidy. These are subsidies rewarded to projects which have substantial technological innovation at its heart. Completion: December 2014. As a result the Lightshower underwent a major transformation in design and software technology.
In 2013 Hanze/Lentis subsidised research analysing effects of the Lighshower on elderly people. Results of this research are still to be published.
We are currently building version 4. This version will have a concave low-res video screen which allows for interactive colour animation.
Can colour improve well being?
According to popular belief, the use of colour in an environment will influence mood, well-being as well as functioning of people. It is also often suggested that coloured light would be more effective than white light, for example when it comes to increasing the activity level of people. Lighting solutions using LEDs would be as effective in improving the well-being and functioning of people than existing solutions based on the use of warm and cool white (fluorescent) light, at a lower energy consumption. Having these technologies available now makes it possible to look into effects of coloured lighting on behaviour and affective state of people. Unfortunately, not many studies have been published so far on this topic, and of the studies published, the results are inconclusive (Martine Knoop, Jettie Hoonhout, Ruben Vanpol)
Other research (Naveen K. Visweswaraiah and Shirley Telles 2006) has shown that breath rates are reduced while exposed to blue light and the diastolic blood pressure reduced immediately after exposure to blue light.
How does coloured light affect us?
There are multiple aspects concerned with coloured light such as hue, saturation and luminance. Luminance has the strongest influence on colour emotions followed by saturation. (Camgöz, N., Yener, C., & Güvenç, D. 2002).
In a study by Bronckers (Bronckers, 2009) at the TU Eindhoven people associated the light in a room with a certain emotion. The results for hue revealed a significant effect on the four atmosphere dimensions: coziness, liveliness, tenseness and detachment. The Lighshower produces ligh colours that cater for each of these aspects based on the participant’s preferences.
Research has shown that preference of colour is subjective and that different emotions are related to a particular colour depending on age.
Also people have different screening abilities to visual stimuli (K. Dijkstraa, M.E. Pieterse, A.Th.H. Pruyna, 2008)
Control over the colour of light came out as a positive contribution on the feeling of relaxation. (Olijve,Willemse,Horst and Wesselink, Tu/e, 2011)
Why in a Ganzfeld environment?
I wanted to create the experience of a full submersion similar to being present in a real landscape where distance is determined by light and color. The self-created landscape appears to be in your head (WALTER COHEN, University of Buffalo, 1960) .
According to the many participants I have had over the last 4 years this often results in a positive emotional response.
Furthermore, to increase the power of a light(ing)-exposure experiment several extraneous factors such as noise and temperature levels have to be controlled for. The semi-enclosed space allows for this.
Participants have often reported entering a meditative state, experiencing pleasant feelings related to a sense of space and relaxation.
Medative states often show increased Alpha and Theta activity in the brain.
(Lagopoulos, J., Xu, J., Rasmussen, I., Vik, A., Malhi, G. S., Eliassen, C. F., & … Ellingsen, Ø. 2009).
Increased Alpha levels are linked to experiencing active relaxation.
Preliminary research has shown that the Lightshower increases Alpha levels (Addie Johnson, Paolo Toffanin, and Daphne Snels, University of Groningen, 2012).
Why colored light and not just intense white light?
Bright Light Therapy is administered through brightly lit screens at fixed times during the day. Other activities can be done during the therapy as long as the patient stays close to the screen.
I wanted participants to switch off at fixed intervals and have an experience rather than just undergoing therapy. It becomes an experience because the immersion has meditative effects. My hypothesis is that intense experience of self-chosen coloured light adds to the beneficial effects of just light therapy.
Not much research has been performed on the effects of coloured light on well-being.
What’s so special about the Lightshower?
It gives almost instantly a ‘wow’ effect when participants enter.
Participants feel empowered by the ease of finding their colour preferences.
The Lightshower lends itself perfectly to do research as data can be stored and reproduced. Therapy sessions can be tracked or even administered over the internet.
Multiple Lightshowers can be connected via the internet to produce the same light and color conditions.
Is it scary to put your head through an opening into a closed space?
For some people this is a little daunting at first but when they are comfortably sitting back seeing a brightly lit indefinite space they slowly move their head inside and lose their inhibitions.
Why two colours? Isn’t it easier to test people just using one?
Research has shown that being exposed to one colour for a prolonged time results in desaturation (see ganzfeld) This effect can be avoided by offsetting the color against another color of different hue. We experience colors in a context of other colors. (Nancy Kwallek, Ph.D, 2007)
Why not VR?
Our real world merges increasingly with the virtual world. Yet, VR has its limitations in the experience of spaciousness, particularly when the sense of endless distance is evoked solely with light, i.e. without using graphics, vanishing points etc.
The Lightshower has been designed to function inbetween the virtual and the real space. It provides an experience which is closest to the real space and sense of distance one has when standing in the middle of an endless landscape limited only by its horizons.
Camgöz, N., Yener, C., & Güvenç, D. (2002). Effects of hue, saturation, and brightness on preference. Color Research & Application , 27 (3), 199–207.
Bronckers, X. (2009). The effects of coloured light on atmosphere perception. Eindhoven University of Technology: Master’s Thesis.
Dijkstra, K., Pieterse, M., & Pruyn, A. (2008). Individual differences in reactions towards color in simulated healthcare environments: The role of stimulus screening ability. Journal of Environmental Psychology , 28, 268–277.
Olijve,Willemse,Horst and Wesselink, Tu/e, 2011.Relaxation in Relation to Control and Coloured Light Journey through colour space.
Cohen, W. (1960). Form recognition, spatial orientation, perception of movement in the uniform visual field. In A. Harris & E. P. Home (Eds.), Visual search techniques. (Pub. 712, pp. 119-123). Washington: National Academy of Science—National Research Council.
Lagopoulos, J., Xu, J., Rasmussen, I., Vik, A., Malhi, G. S., Eliassen, C. F., & … Ellingsen, Ø. (2009). Increased theta and alpha EEG activity during nondirective meditation. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15, 1187-1192.
Addie Johnson, Paolo Toffanin, and Daphne Snels, University of Groningen (2012): Self-chosen Colored Light Induces Relaxation
Kwallek, N. K. (2007). Work week productivity and visual complexity and individual environmental sensitivity in three offices of different color interiors. Journal of Color Research and Application (32), 130-143.
Naveen K. Visweswaraiah and Shirley Telles (2006): Psychophysiological Effects of Colored Light Used in Healing
Martine Knoop, Jettie Hoonhout, Ruben Vanpol:Coloured light in offices: support or distraction? European Lighting Conference, pp 177-122