When it comes to consumer-facing technology, they say that extremely complex systems should always appear perfectly simple on the surface, so that the users are required to do very little if nothing at all in order to get the most benefit out of the tool. And while this thesis holds true to a whole host of apps and websites we all use every single day (do you have any idea how posting a picture on Instagram actually, technically, works?), some aspects of our lives are becoming increasingly automated, and we have no idea for what benefit.
Circadian rhythm lighting solutions are a perfect example of this. A growing number of indoor spaces, including universities, labs, offices and even homes have integrated circadian rhythm lighting into their lighting systems. Have you ever noticed that the light is changing from warm and cold hues throughout the day? The thing is that when technological advancements are simply integrated into our lives without our awareness of this, nor education on why this is happening and why is it important, there’s a risk that we’ll become passive consumers of something that requires active users.
Circadian rhythm lighting, if executed properly, should work its magic on each person who takes in light from it – regardless of their awareness that red, warm hues will stimulate melatonin and encourage sleep, and cold, blue hues will make them energised. But the issue of integrating this type of technology with absolutely zero accompanying education is that users will not understand why this is happening nor how they can use the technology to best aid them.
Because when we embrace seamless integration, we lose the educational aspect of the goal we strive to achieve. How many of you wished you could understand better how the mechanics of your phone worked, or how the internet works? This knowledge, even if taught on a very basic level, could have aided millions of people today who find themselves struggling to keep up with the technology their entire lives and careers rely on.
When it comes to integrating a new system of lighting, because the nature of the development is so new, we can still have a say on how this shift will be done — and it will be in done the coming years. It’s important that users are taught about the benefits of the technology that surrounds them, instead of wondering why the colour of the lighting is changing without ever having the chance to engage with and embody this shift.