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Working Under the Sky

January 10th 2012

There aren't that many people who get to work outside anymore, under the clouds. That is because many people opted for working at a computer desk or office desk rather than outside physical graft. There are issues with sitting for too long in an office chair that are becoming apparent in recent years, but ergonomic furniture seems to be saturated with ideas on how to overcome these problems. Fraunhofer researchers have created a prototype virtual sky that has the ability to imitate cloud movements to give the illusion of working outdoors.

The prototype has been made using energy efficient LED lights, simulates the clouds moving across a blue sky and has the ability to change at a slow or rapid pace to imitate how sunlight will change the amount of light that comes from above. The idea of this is that it gives the office workers a pleasant feeling of working outside whilst sitting at their desks and office chairs, without feeling cold or the feeling of being in miserable weather. The prototype that has been created has the ability to light up the ceiling with an intensity of more than 3,000 lumens per square foot (1 square metre) when at full power, which happens to be far greater than the 500-1,000 lumens needed to create a comfortable level of lighting for an office.

The virtual sky has already been tested on volunteers who found that they actually enjoyed working under this form of ceiling. They were tested over the course of three days, the first working under static lighting, the second under slow lighting fluctuations, and the third were rapid lighting fluctuations. After these three days, the volunteers were then allowed to choose which form of lighting they wanted to work under on the fourth day and a remarkable 8 out of 10 chose to work under rapid light fluctuations. The lab where the volunteers were working was created by using 34,560 LED lights that covered an area of approximately 34 square metres. The virtual sky has already received interest from companies who would prefer to use this in conference rooms while sitting at their boardroom table.

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