Helvar Celebrating WELL: supporting individual lighting control needs using ActiveTune

Henri Juslén
Henri Juslén, Helvar’s Chief Future Illuminator, focuses together with his team on lighting, research, university co-operation, IPR, standards and AI-solutions. With over 40 years of life experience and over 20 years of lighting experience, Henri is a true veteran of the lighting industry. Henri holds a number of qualifications including a D.Sc in tech and the WELL AP credential.

If you take a look at the person next to you, you will see differences, even if they are your twin. It is likely that the person will have different needs and preferences than you. The WELL building standard highlights the need to give people the possibility to control their environment. One of the easiest things to control in a working environment is the lighting. However, things get complicated when thinking about the most appropriate personal control for each activity and space.

The most common place where manual lighting control is used is in a meeting room. Typically workshopping and discussing are preferred under a high lighting level in a way that colleagues faces are easy to see. This helps communication.  A higher lighting level can, however, “eat” part of the data from the projector picture or generate glare from the screen. As a result, people are using lighting control in meeting rooms to tailor the lighting to their needs. It is indeed important to give control possibility to people. However, even in a meeting room, an intelligent system can help control the lighting automatically. At the Helvar HQ, in the main meeting room when starting a presentation, the lights are set automatically to presentation mode. This is done by smart plug integration.

Open-plan offices offer a challenge for tailored personal lighting control. Giving too much control to a person might influence the lighting conditions for the rest of the office. At Helvar HQ, we solved this by ensuring that the general lighting in the space is optimum and then provided each workstation with suspended task lighting which is adjustable to the users. The first solution was to add energy harvesting wireless user interface panels to the table. Although this works, some users did not like nor use the panels. The next solution was ActiveTune. The user can activate the lighting control of the selected workstation by scanning the QR code on that desk. The third option to make personal control fully automatic is called ActiveTune Computer. The application is downloaded to the personal computer. Whichever workstation the user selects, it provides the user with control of the lighting on top of the desk, and even more importantly, the lighting can be tuned automatically according to the user´s preferences. A further solution implemented was a personal “Light over Time” feature.  The user can preselect if they want lighting that supports their circadian rhythm efficiently or lighting that follows the natural day rhythms. They can also select a lighting scene that provides energising changes in lighting, for example, the feeling of walking in the forest during a half cloudy day. This is something that takes the best part of automatisation and offers truly personalised task lighting.

On the other hand, it could be mentioned that the need for an individual to actively control the lighting, would mean that lighting control has failed since the individual is having to go out of their way to control the light instead of it being done automatically. Nevertheless, the ability to fully tailor lighting to one’s needs is a welcomed feature that is in line with technological changes in modern society.