CoeLux simulates sun and sky in windowless rooms

[From Interesting Engineering, where the story includes many more images]

Ceolux Lighting

CoeLux brings sunlight to rooms without windows

June 14th, 2014 by Allison Blackburn

Everyone knows that if experienced responsibly, sunlight is good for you, but in some cases people don’t get enough. For instance, this could be those who work in rooms that are windowless or people who live in the north during winter. A lack of sunlight has been attributed to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

One way of overcoming the winter blues as it is more commonly known is through light therapy. However the lamps on the market are limited. Now a designer from Italy has come up with a system that is unique, called CoeLux. This system produces artificial light through a false skylight that is packed with intelligence.

Professor Paolo Di Trapani from the University of Insurbia has been working on the system for over 10 years, with the aim of recreating sunlight beyond the ceilings and walls of spaces that are enclosed. It brings illumination that is realistic into any space lacking light, where people suffer from a lack of well-being, traditionally associated with sunlight.

The CoeLux system makes use of three key elements that copy natural lighting. LED lighting has been used to resemble the sun in the sky and natural light, while the team behind the tech developed an optical system that is complex and which mimics the sunlight and rays. It does this thanks to nano-structured materials that have been used to copy the Rayleigh scattering process that happens in the atmosphere. However there is more to it than just making the ceiling look like the sky complete with a false sun.

In order for the team to emulate the natural sunlight some design challenges had to be overcome. The team used an engine capable of photorealistic rendering to simulate the sunlight and sky when they were working with chosen materials.

The inventor said “The objective included further developments of the existing Maxwell Render software functionality to include light scattering properties, light polarization effects, custom spectrum data (through spectrum curves or raw data) and light spectrum measurements, by including a virtual spectrophotometer.”

New user interfaces were designed which allowed for easier interaction. The CoeLux system doesn’t just offer simulated daylight for spaces that are enclosed. The system could also be used to copy three separate lighting scenarios. This includes northern Europe, where the light is at an angle that is lower in relation to the horizon than the equator.

The CoeLux 30 comes with a window that can be mounted to the wall and it provides a warm light that is the type found in such as Scandinavia and other northern regions. The CoeLux 60 offers a more vertical type of lighting effect that is cooler and which casts dramatic shadows. There is also the CoeLux 45 skylight and this offers light at 45 degrees and has been balanced to provide shadow and light for those who want Mediterranean lighting or who live around the 45th parallel.

There are numerous psychological healing properties associated with natural lighting, along with feelings of well-being. The CoeLux system could therefore be welcomed in applications including healthcare, retail, residential and transport. The system relies on a false ceiling that is elaborate but which remains just millimetres in thickness. This brings the sun along with the sky to spaces that are without windows or which are dull.

The CoeLux system has funding from the European Union and has been chosen as one among twelve of upcoming technologies in the EU.


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