Cherry blossoms bloom in ESI Designs light display

Historic D.C. Building Comes Alive With Light

A renovated Washington D.C. office building renowned for its historical significance as a civil rights landmark now captures attention with magnificent displays of reactive light.

Cherry blossoms bloom in ESI Designs light display
via ESI Designs

In 1951 Mary Church Terrell led a civil rights protest at the lunch counter of what was then Hecht’s department store. Over 60 years later the aptly named Terrell Place, now a renovated office building, is making history again.

An Interactive Experience

Imagine that every workday was like walking into a virtual reality. Outside, you might trudge through snow and sleet, but inside, cherry trees blossom and fade, fireworks blaze and butterflies flutter with the ebb and flow of activity in the building’s lobby. (more…)

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ipad and iphone at night

Are Businesses ‘Waking Up’ to the Role of Blue Light in Sleep?

ipad and iphone at nightAn estimated 83.6 million sleep deprived people are shuffling around the U.S. at any given moment – so it makes sense that businesses are investing in products and technologies that focus on ways to get a good night’s rest.

When smart lighting entered the market, it made changing the color temperature of lights easy. With the touch of a button, users could program their lights to wake them up slowly, like a sunrise.

Apple’s recent update to iOS 9.3 introduced Night Shift, a feature that takes its cues from the sun (or more specifically, your device’s clock and geolocation) to gently shift the color temperature of your display to the warmer end of the light spectrum at night which may help you get a better night’s sleep.

The Basics of Blue Light

Blue light, a naturally occurring wavelength emitted in sunshine, was manufactured into light emitting diodes (LED’s) by three Japanese scientists in the early 1990’s, an invention so innovative that it led to a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014.  Smartphones, HD televisions, computers … all of these devices are enhanced by the brilliant light of this technological marvel.

Does Blue Light Mess Up Sleep Patterns?

The theory is that the blue light does such a marvelous job of mimicking the sun, that it “tricks” our brains into thinking that it is still daytime. (See Using Your Tablet or Smart Phone in Bed May Be a Lousy Idea for more information.)

The theory is that the blue light does such a marvelous job of mimicking the sun, that it “tricks” our brains into thinking that it is still daytime.

What Next?

Currently, there’s not enough data to definitively say that the blue light from devices is what is keeping people awake at night. Rather, maybe your wakefulness is a result of too much mental stimulation from playing a game, or just plain worrying about some email that you checked right before you went to bed?

Although the jury is still out on whether or not screens emitting light on the blue spectrum actually disrupt natural sleep cycles, Apple’s latest release may be a catalyst for more discussion on the side effects of late night screening.

What do you think? Have you tried Night Shift, or products that do something similar? Has it helped you get a better night’s rest?


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The Bay Lights photo credit James Ewing

The Bay Lights Project Will Dazzle at Super Bowl 50

The Bay Lights photo credit James Ewing25,000 LED lights, intricately programmed on a network of complex algorithms, will soon dazzle the San Francisco Bay area on the largest LED light sculpture ever created. But it won’t be the first time.

In March of 2015, after a two-year-long display, it was “lights out” for the beloved Bay Lights Project, an iconic architectural light sculpture dreamed up by non-profit organization and made reality by renowned artist Leo Villareal.

The original project, which ran from March 2013 to March 2015, was deconstructed when the permit expired, allowing the city to do maintenance work on the cables. Illuminate immediately went to work raising the $4 million needed to ensure that the bridge would be re-lit.

Thanks to their efforts, an upgraded and reinstalled sculpture will dazzle once again on January 30, 2016 where it will afterwards be gifted to the State of California. (more…)

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Man walking into bathroom stall with tooshlights installed

Lights that Made us Say WHAT? – Tooshlights

Lights that made us say What? Tooshlights

Sometimes in my search for lighting news to share with my readers, I come across a new lighting product that stops me in my tracks, causes me to raise my brows and even makes me chuckle. Tooshlights® are definitely one of them.

The Los Angeles start-up recently brought to market an automated lighting system that uses glowing red and green LED lights to signal patrons when a bathroom stall is available. Quite literally in this case, “green means go.”

Man walking into bathroom stall with tooshlights installed

You can install Tooshlights in any size restroom, but the advantages really come into play in large venues like stadiums, airports, theme parks, and performing arts centers, etc. There are some nice benefits for the end-user (no pun intended) and for the venue: (more…)

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LEDs Hit the Streets

Cities everywhere are jumping on the LED street light bandwagon and trading in their outdated fixtures for new & improved models. We’ve known for years that LEDs have many advantages over their incandescent counterparts, so why the sudden push to make the switch?

LED street lights compared to conventional street lights in Sacramento County
This image from Sacramento County’s recent lighting upgrade reveals the vast difference in color temperatures between LED and Conventional street lights. (Photo credit:

Why are Cities Getting Rid of Conventional Street Lights?

Take a look at some of the benefits LEDs offer over conventional High Pressure Sodium (HPS) street lights:

  • LEDs are 10x more energy-efficient
  • LEDs last 25x longer (less maintenance, reduced lamp toxins in landfills)
  • LEDs offer advanced lighting controls (dim or power off when not in use)
  • LEDs offer better visibility (less glare for drivers, better images for security cameras)
  • LEDs reduce light pollution by not diffusing light in all directions


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LED solar hanging planter basket for the garden.

This Solar Light May Have Turned Me into a Green Thumb

With the bounty of Spring upon us and Summer right around the corner, I decided to shine some light on a product that I’ve been itching to unbox: A hanging garden basket with ultra bright solar LEDs.

Just one problem…

I’m not much of a green thumb (truth be told, I’ve been known to kill a cactus) so I was a bit hesitant to – literally – put a spotlight on my inability to keep anything green alive.

What it Is
Solar LED hanging basket

  • A solar-powered LED light is suspended above a hanging garden basket.
  • Kit includes a solar panel, a coconut husk-lined basket, bracket and chains.
  • Automatic dusk-to-dawn solar light illuminates your plant.
  • Provides about 12 hours of warm white light when fully charged.
  • Currently priced at $49.00 (Note: The light is also available for purchase without the basket)

Where to Hang It

One of the features of solar lights is that they need to be positioned, well, in the sun. But the blazing hot Southern summers (and this non green-thumbed gal) can spell tragedy for plants. I’m much more likely to keep a shade loving plant alive. Thankfully, the remote solar panel can be installed up to 8 feet away from the planter which means I can hang my flowers in a shady area while positioning the panel in the sun for optimal charging.

Tips for Installing the Light

When you’re searching for the right place, make sure you have a nice sunny spot available within 8 feet of the basket to install the solar panel. For bright light throughout the evening, the panel should be exposed to direct sunlight for several hours a day. (more…)

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