Christina Friis Blach Petersen, founder of LYS Technologies, explains how she became obsessed with light and turned it into her life’s purpose.
How would you feel if I were to say that it all started with my sudden obsession with light. How it all came to existence after I had spent hours inside the labs of Imperial College, illuminated by nothing more than vibrating fluorescent ceiling lighting. Rows and rows of it. Affixed to the surface above my head and dragging me, and everyone around me, into a hypnotic loop of fatigue, anxiety, inability to focus and generally – a total state of internal chaos. It all started with a thought, it’s a very simple thought come to think of it: this doesn’t feel natural. How is this light affecting my mind and body.
Without sounding trite or cliché, the rest simply fell into place. My research narrowed into circadian rhythms (the natural cycles that control the sleep-wake cycle of us and all the living beings we share this planet with). Sleep is controlled by light. Concentration too. Energy levels, mental stability, metabolism. Light is equal to life. We know that. The plants in our homes and offices decay, droop down and transform to drying brown tones if they are left in a dark corner of the space. So what about us? Wellbeing is on the rise in our society, from watching what we eat, to counting our steps. But in the race to live better, light has been left entirely neglected. And from all the wellbeing crazes (and we’ve had some ludacris ones), getting more light is a really simple task. It doesn’t entail sacrifices nor does it cost anything, it’s simply a matter of habit.
I founded LYS Technologies (pronounced loose, which means light in Danish) almost two years ago with a mission to raise global awareness of circadian rhythm disruption and the important role light has to our wellbeing. In the development of our first ever product, the LYS 1.0, which is a beautifully designed light measuring wearable and accompanying app. Even though we thought this would be a tool for individuals to improve their habits, since launching we’ve learnt so much from our users and discovered there are many ways they use LYS. Some wear the LYS every day while others only when the light has changes in their environment, or when they change spaces. One user who runs a studio from her home has gone as far as infusing her morning routine with a walk and moving the location of her desk closer to a window. Another user told us how LYS completely changed his and his family’s lives; his children compete with who gets best light scored – consequently spurring them to cut their screen time down. Hearing these personal stories has probably been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had since starting the company; LYS is actually changing individuals’ lives for the better.
Our big plan is not only to empower users with actionable feedback and easily managed light goals, diets, jet-lag plans, SAD programmes and seasonal tips, but to also use the data we collect in order to influence the decisions made in the construction of buildings, particularly office spaces and get companies to think with more insight about their employees’ wellbeing.
Our growing team – nourished inside the colourful and light-filled infrastructure of Second Home Holland Park – is now focused on the benefits LYS 1.0 can have on office workers. 74 percent of us currently live within urban jungles, and with that, our reliance on the natural day and night light cycles is non-existent. We spend a large amount of our days inside low lit offices that can be up to 250 darker than even an overcast day in winter. Our evenings are then followed by screens and strong artificial light. Basically our circadian rhythms are confused and in desperate need of balancing.
We’re determined to improve how we live in cities by tackling circadian rhythm disruption, and we’re seeing more and more people who are waking up to the importance of light in their life. It is an inspiring awareness movement to watch grow, we are currently working with researchers, architects, lighting designers and window manufacturers who have all come together for our belief in the importance of light.
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