The trouble with people, is they don’t respond to risk. Not wholly true, in fact we are very attuned to immediate risk. We understand walking out in front of a car, jumping a red light, breaking the speed limit. We are not good at evaluating delayed risk. Buying Euros now in case the Pound slumps, eating healthy and exercising to increase lifespan, reducing carbon to tackle climate change, installing emergency lighting in case of power cuts.

Getting people to take a delayed risk seriously is near impossible, unless you are talking to the risk averse. Most people just can’t see delayed risk as an understandable outcome. There are too many what ifs.

Speed camera
UK speed camera gives us a warning of the risk of speeding

If I speed, I can avert the short-term risk, fit a GPS camera detector, evaluate what I might hit, or look far enough ahead to see the police car parked on the motorway bridge. I can understand the immediacy of it, I can react as the possible pain is close. The actions I can take are both understandable and easy to balance with the outcomes.
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The route to CEng is not so difficult, but…

When I grew up there were just two sorts of mechanical engineer, the one that worked on your car (often mistitled) and the professional one. That’s a little unfair to car mechanics, but I don’t mean to be. A mechanic is indeed a skilled person, but the term engineer is often attributed to people who don’t deserve it.

“Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies engineering, physics, and materials science principles to design, analyse, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems” – Wikipedia

Before you throw this aside with derision, hear me out. I, like many designers, feel the skills, experience, and qualifications I hold have been hard earned, perhaps I also benefit from a little talent too, but like many I find lots of young talent snipping at my heels and claiming to be a lighting designer, or indeed a lighting engineer. Often, I get asked why it is anyone can be called a lighting designer and all too often I get asked how anyone who works for a lighting manufacturer can ever claim to be a lighting designer at all. The world it seems is all about claim and counter claim and the rush to the top.

Continue reading “The route to CEng is not so difficult, but…”

Artificial intelligence in lighting design

On 4th December 2017 a group of leading thinkers got together to discuss the influence of artificial intelligence on the lighting design community. Called together by Florence Lam, Director & Global Lighting Leader at ARUP, we  and guests from the Society of Light and Lighting, discussed how design would change, how ARUP were already using algorithms to reduce design time, how designers will react to the changes in workplace, and myself, I added thoughts on how there will be huge changes in the way we manufacture not just luminaires, but complete buildings including the building services.

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Warm it up

There’s a distinct problem with light at night. We all know how it can annoy us humans and keep us awake, but the problem is felt by millions, even billions of others, not just us.

The latest figure I could find suggested that in a square kilometre of sky, at all times, there are billions of insects. So it’s no surprise that when you turn the light on at night some of them will be attracted.

But recently it was suggested that if we can’t turn off the lights we should do something to mitigate this mass attraction that we have created. The angle thrown at me was actually that we should be attracting insects to areas where bats can feed, but we have to be really careful about bats, morally and legally. Not sure the insect lovers amongst us would agree with this proactive feeding approach, if we were careful with our lighting bats and insects wouldn’t be impacted at all by our human needs. They don’t need our help, clearly they need protection from us as a species. Continue reading “Warm it up”

Bright lights, another headache?

Glare is a wonderful thing; it creates sparkle, glints and artistic flare. On the other hand glare is an awful thing; creating difficulty to see, veiling detail and tiring the eye.

Whether you love it or not depends on the situation, a club compared to the office, relaxing in the sun compared to driving the car. But we have developed measures to try and quantify glare and what the limits should be. UGR, or the unified glare rating, has been around for a long time. No, it’s not perfect. For one thing, how often do you sit, head at 1.2m above the floor, half way along a wall in a rectangular space and look directly across the room. Continue reading “Bright lights, another headache?”

Colouring your thoughts

There’s a lot of talk about colour rendering and colour temperature, and it seems mostly about what the truth applied to LED.

Should it be R using the 8 sample scale (R8), or R using the 14 colour scale (some call this R14)? Doesn’t Ra of 100 compare to daylight, or is it tungsten? Does LED even tell the truth with colour rendering and isn’t there a better method?

Listen to all the hype, even as an expert and it all gets a little confusing. Then add colour temperature and efficiency and well, we might as all well retire down the bar for a glass of Rioja until we can reach a conclusion.

But there is a lot of talk about little differences. In the LED race to get better colour, we have perhaps forgotten the eyes ability to see, or the brains ability to interpret, both of which are more about perception than absolute measures. Continue reading “Colouring your thoughts”