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Human eye-like camera optimises lighting for visual comfort

Posted: 10 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:visual comfort? digital eye? light intensity? eye-like camera?

To combine visual comfort with electrical energy savings, researchers from the EPFL Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory (LESO) in collaboration with the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) developed a "digital eye," which is human eye-like camera that can optimise natural and artificial lighting according to the user's visual comfort.

A first in the measurement of visual comfort, this high-dynamic-range video camera sees like the human eye and thus can provide clues regarding the optimum light intensity that provides visual comfort, according to the LESO researchers. It can also capture different levels of light intensity and has a broad field of vision. Equipping the camera with special filters developed in the EPFL laboratory, the research team was able to use the camera to measure humans' visual comfort and discomfort against a set of visual comfort indexes through radiation levels.

The digital eye can also detect whether a person is in its field of view. It can be placed on a computer screen or be integrated into smart glasses to assess a person's work environment.

Optimising visual comfort using the human eye-like camera from EPFL and CSEM

"One of the problems encountered in this first step is that we could not accurately and automatically measure visual comfort indexes," said Ali Motamed, a Ph.D. student in charge of the second phase of the project. Motamed is currently working on an experimental tool that makes near-real-time measurements and calculations of all data collected by the camera, which is currently being miniaturised at CSEM.

In addition, this smart camera opens more research opportunities, such as the effect of light on the mood and cognitive abilities of office workers, considering their circadian rhythm. "We know that a certain light intensity is necessary to promote alertness and productivity in people. It's a challenge to combine that with the concept of saving energy." Aiming to tackle this area, Motamed intends to play with all available light sources, natural and artificial, according to the time of day and an individual's location.

At full capability, this technology is expected to adjust to users' visual preferences and take into account their location and the quality of their indoor environment to optimise lighting conditions and save power.

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