Morteza Matkan is an architect whose specific interest is the impact of light and lighting technologies on human health and behaviour in the built environment. Matkan is preparing for a PhD and during his research he spotted a gap in the market for a consumer product that made use of smart lighting technology to boost the mood, health and wellbeing of those who spend a lot of time indoors. Matkan subsequently teamed up with fellow architect Dr Sadegh Panahi Azar to develop the product, and last year they set up IllumniAI Tech to bring it to market.
Much has been written about the impact of light on how people feel, particularly during the winter when light levels are low, and the company’s first product is a smart “lamp” designed to replicate the continuum of natural light changes. It can also act as a mobile phone charger and can connect users to immersive outdoor scenes and guided meditations accessed via an app.
"We wanted our lamp to be accessible to as many people as possible. The pricing has not been finalised, but it will be between €150 and €200."
“Our lamp utilises next-generation smart lighting technology to mimic the natural light-dark cycle, bringing you the right light at the right time of day, just as nature intended,” Matkan says. “By replicating the biological benefits of natural light, our lamp will support the human circadian rhythm and help the user to maintain a healthy sleep and wake cycle and to enhance their mood and concentration. In developed societies, people spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors, so having access to changing daylight plays an important role in human physical and psychological wellbeing, particularly if the view contains natural elements.”
During his research, Matkan found that many people’s only access to daylight and a view of the outdoors was through windows or skylights. He also discovered that daylight is no longer the main source of light in indoor environments. “It seemed to me there was a solid basis to develop a device that could artificially provide the stimulus of natural light combined with outside views at an affordable price,” he says. “The few virtual technologies on the market that replicate ‘real life’ windows and views are more commercial and prohibitively expensive for individuals. We wanted our lamp to be accessible to as many people as possible. The pricing has not been finalised, but it will be between €150 and €200.”
One of the main differentiating features of illuminAi’s technology is that it fits in with the user rather than the other way around. This contrasts with most existing human-centric lighting which takes a one-size-fits-all approach. The machine learning element within the illuminAi software means it “learns” from user feedback and adjusts to suit individual use, as people’s sleep and working patterns may vary significantly.
“The lamp is suitable for all, but we believe our main market will be corporate employees who spend most of their time indoors and whose mood, productivity and overall health are influenced by the quality of their space and its lighting,” Matkan says. “Connecting to the outside world also helps with reducing stress, encouraging relaxation and restoring depleted attention capacity.”
IlluminAi Tech is based at Nova, UCD’s innovation centre for new ventures, and the in-house-designed illuminAi Smart Lamp will be assembled in Ireland.
The founders are aiming to go global with their product, which has received commercialisation and competitive start backing from Enterprise Ireland. The founders are now looking to raise around €2 million in seed funding. IlluminAi’s technology has been in development for four years and investment to date has been about €300,000. The product will be launched in Q3 of this year and market entry will be through a crowdfunding campaign designed to raise around €250,000, create awareness of the product and get it into consumers’ hands as quickly as possible.
Source:The Irish Times
Image Source: Nick Bradshaw