“Enhance Your Mood with Near-Infrared Light Emitted by Desktop Lamps”

Light therapy lamps have become increasingly popular as a result. These products rely on the visible light spectrum, in a bid to mimic the sun’s impact for those of us who spend more of our waking hours in front of a computer than we care to mention. More recently, use of the “near-infrared” (NIR) segment of the light spectrum has been growing in popularity as a potential alternative to visible light. As the name implies, the segment sits between infrared and visible light, at around 600 and 1000 nanometers. That said, it’s probably still safe to suggest that the jury is still out on a lot of this stuff.

As human beings spend an increasing amount of their time indoors, we miss out on the natural benefits of the sun. The awareness of season affective disorder has grown accordingly, shining a light on the impact the sun has on our production of serotonin and its effect on our bodies.

“To mimic the sun’s effects on those of us who spend most of our waking hours in front of computers, light therapy lamps have gained popularity.”

I myself have purchased one of these lamps, and it is quite large and cumbersome, projecting bright light similar to tanning beds. These lamps utilize the visible light spectrum, but more recently, there has been an uptick in the use of the “near-infrared” (NIR) section of the light spectrum as an alternative. This segment is found between infrared and visible light, specifically between 600 and 1000 nanometers.

According to the National Institute of Health, “low-level light therapy in the far-red (FR) to near-infrared (NIR) range, known as photobiomodulation (PBM), has gained global attention as a novel tool for experimental therapeutic applications in various medical conditions.”

This past weekend at MWC, Dutch company Seaborough showcased their small devices designed to replace the larger, traditional SAD lamps. These devices can be placed next to a computer or clipped onto a display, resembling an external webcam. They are powered by a USB port.

Unfortunately, these devices are currently only in the proof of concept stage.

The company is seeking partnerships to license the technology.

The lead image was shot with an iPhone, which can capture NIR, explaining the purple-red glow. The surrounding bezels also emit this glow. Perhaps in the future, Seaborough could incorporate this feature into laptops themselves, but for now, third-party accessories seem more likely. It would even be interesting to see it built into an actual webcam.

As someone who has dealt with depression in the past few years, I am open to exploring options such as this. However, it is difficult to review them anecdotally as a placebo effect may come into play. Nonetheless, research has been conducted on this topic. In a paper published 10 years ago, it was noted that “PBM treatment at 6.5 J·cm−2 had consistent positive effects on well-being and health, specifically improving mood, reducing drowsiness, reducing IFN-γ, and resting heart rate.”

The research indicated that these effects were only experienced during the winter months and did not have a significant impact on participants’ circadian rhythm.

Therefore, it is safe to say that the effectiveness of this technology is still up for debate.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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