Good Industrial Design

2015

Our mission - life needs light -

Sparckel is a frontrunner in the field of biodynamic light. As the inventor of the worlds’ first plug & play biodynamic light, Sparckel’s innovation helps the world with the best healthy lighting indoors giving people more energy and a better mood to live and work. Through a better running biological clock, we help people with better sleep, decelerated symptoms of dementia and lessen depression. Known for delivering an unparalleled healthy light experience, a Dutch design aesthetic and simplicity of use, Sparckel is able to light up everybody’s life. Sparckel is headquartered in Eindhoven, High Tech Campus.

About Sparckel

We began pioneering the healthy aspects of light to help people back in 2011. There had to be a better way…  We launched our first healthy lighting system called Vitaallicht in the beginning of 2012. We received extremely positive feedback from our first test users about the noticeable improvements they had seen in their lifestyle, sleep patterns, health complaints and work energy.

 

(“Mum, please turn on the sun”, “Fewer problems with ADHD”, “After years, I can finally sleep though the night”, “I feel like working and perform better, delivering a higher quality of work”)

 

We have now completed the start-up phase and are transitioning into the scale-up phase. We operate at the heart of the ecosystem of Eindhoven: the city of light. A multidisciplinary team has continued to develop the Sparckel system. Our electronics and software development take place in the Netherlands. Our production and assembly is done at Innometaal & Inno-assembly in Eindhoven –  a top-quality company that also assembles medical equipment and is capable of supplying in large series. Electronics production and engineering take place at Phuntronix in Soesterberg. We carry out research jointly with Eindhoven University of Technology and Fontys University of Applied Sciences in a Triple Helix setting. And, we run everything from our office at High Tech Campus 10. You are welcome to visit us by appointment. Come and recharge your batteries with daylight and coffee!

 

It is a privilege to build a company from scratch. We gain energy and satisfaction from hearing our customers telling us how our solutions genuinely help. Their lives have changed for the better – what more could we wish for?!

The idea of Sparckel has come from amazement of how much scientific proven positive effect light has on the health op people and frustration about the old business model.

I learned a great deal while working for Philips Lighting doing European strategic marketing and selling Lighting Healthcare. I would explain that light has visual aspects, will influence your emotions with colors, AND can have healthy aspects.

 

Medical professionals immediately believed the healthy aspects and wanted to purchase, until they realized how much it would cost…. Installing healthy lighting in the ceiling of a building is costly and complex. The (business case) added value also had to be sold in advance with a PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet. This was usually an uphill struggle, because light is something that one has to experience.

A few ideology based projects that did get off the ground produced fantastic results. For example, the director of elderly care said “Our patients are much more awake during the day, people sleep better at night with fewer accidents of falling and the staff is less burdened and in better mood! All elderly care facilities should have this type of lighting, because this really works!”

Being a Master of business economics, I analysed the lighting business model with different and sometimes conflicting interests between the user and the owner of a building, architects, end-users, building engineers and electrical installers. This all together led to the idea of creating 'the TomTom of healthy light’ i.e. essentially extract the technology from the building.

 

Also, when I started to read more and more research articles, I found myself amazed by the extent of the positive impact light had on people. My own grandfather has had dementia and I found it an 'inhumane' way of getting old. Then, reading the proven decelerating effect on dementia with the use of artificial daylight, I knew what we had to do. Make this light available in a simple, easy to use form, with enough light so that it really works.

Maarten Voorhuis

Chief entrepreneur at Sparckel

Part of Fronthouse Innovative Concepts B.V.

Frequently asked questions

Is Sparckel a therapy lamp?


No, although it could be: prevention is better than cure, so they say. Sparckel does not emit therapeutic light and can stay on all day. The light comes from above and adjusts automatically to simulate a normal sunny day. As such, Sparckel effectively becomes an integral part of our daily life.




I work next to a window so I already have enough light, don’t I?


Not normally… Working next to a window is certainly healthier because you have more of a connection with the outside world. However, the amount of light soon diminishes, which leaves your biological clock with insufficient stimulation. In addition, if the weather conditions where you live are often poor, this does not help with the level of natural daylight in a room. Sparckel is therefore definitely still worthwhile and effective, even if you sit next to a window.




Do you have any healthy lighting tips?


Of course. Try to get outdoors as often as you can. Also when you are at work, for example, during your lunch break; not just for a breath of fresh air, but also for a blast of light.




How much light is there outdoors compared with indoors?


The light level outdoors can easily reach 10,000 to 100,000 lux. Indoors, this is usually ‘only’ about 500 lux, but even this level is not achieved very often. This causes ‘biological darkness’, even though we can still see things. A Sparckel easily produces 1,700 to 2,500 lux, depending on the surroundings. It is designed to give your eyes 1,000 lux measured vertically next to our eyes.




When does light become healthy?


The formula for precisely calculating healthy light levels is a topic for further scientific research. We based our designs on the current scientific insights and listening to what people who use actually Sparckel have to say about it. The following aspects are important in this respect:

- the amount of light (#lux entering the eye),

- the composition of the light (a peak at around 465Nm),

- a complete spectrum (colour rendering Ra >90),

- the change in the spectrum during the day (from 4,800 to 1,800 Kelvin),

- the angle of incidence of the light (diagonally from in front of and above you),

- and the duration of exposure (at least 45 minutes, but preferably several hours a day).




Jetlag problems?


Go for a walk outdoors in the morning. Doing this will ‘tell’ your internal biological clock that ‘this is the new time to be active’. In this way, your biological clock will shift more quickly to the ‘new time zone’




I can see properly so I already receive sufficient light, don’t I?


Yes. You may be getting enough light to see with, but that is usually too little to run your biological clock. 500 lux shining measured horizontally at your desk is roughly only a quarter of the amount of light needed ‘to make your eyes think and feel as though you are outdoors’.

For us to be able to see, the cones and rods in our retinas have to work properly. However, the role played by ganglion cells - our third receptor - was only discovered in 2002. In many indoor lighting situations, ganglion cells are not triggered. This gives our sleep hormone the chance to accumulate during the day. This leaves you feeling less energised and lacking alertness.

Receiving an additional dose of light of about 465Nm at specific moments of the day – such as in the morning and beginning of the afternoon – will stimulate your ganglion cells. The amount of light entering the eye must be at least 600 lux and preferably about 1,000 lux to be effective. This level of light will suppress your sleep hormone and make your significantly more alert.




How does our biological clock work according to Wikipedia?


The mechanism in the brain that is responsible for regulating the circadian rhythm is called the biological clock. This mechanism is located in a tiny region of the brain in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmaticus nucleus. Light falling on the retinas of the eyes is led through special ganglion cells to the hypothalamus and from there to the suprachiasmaticus nucleus. Ganglion cells contain a photopigment called melanopsin. The suprachiasmaticus nucleus regulates the sleep-wake rhythm by stimulating other regions of the brain such as the epiphysis cerebri (pineal gland). The epiphysis cerebri produces the hormone melatonin, which influences the sleep-wake rhythm.




The biological clock explained in ‘simple terms’:


Receiving more daylight enables special cells in the human eye to run the biological clock. This suppresses our sleep hormone melatonin during the day and makes us feel alert and full of energy. The more we suppress the sleep hormone during the day, the more it can accumulate in the evening to prepare the body for a good night’s sleep. When we do go to bed, we sleep more deeply and for longer, waking up feeling rested and ready to start the day with extra energy.

In addition, stimulating the ganglion cells in our retinas with light at the right times enables us to better regulate our stress hormone cortisol and our sleep hormone melatonin through our biological clock. On balance, we improve our mood and mental fitness.




Why should this interest you? You are healthy and you feel good, don’t you?!


Believe us and the scientific evidence that more daylight will make a substantial difference. Compare it to elite sport: daylight can boost performance by up to 12%. That’s enough to enable you to respond attentively to changing challenging situations in your workplace.




Does Sparckel do the same thing as Philips Hue lamps?


No, Sparckel produces much more light. Many Hue lamps work with RGB LEDs. Sparckel produces the full spectrum of white light. We have also integrated special health-enhancing light scenes into the system, based on scientific insights and feedback from our existing customers.




Can I change or replace the bulbs?


No, the special Sparckel LEDs are integrated in a printed circuit board and cannot be replaced.

However, Sparckel has an expected lifespan of 7 to 10 years.




How does Sparckel know what time it is?


The clock function is integrated. Even when your Sparckel is not plugged in, the clock will carry on working and allow for daylight saving hours. Sparckel even has a ‘seasonal clock’ that can calculate accurately to the minute when the sun will rise and set in a specific geographical location (longitude and latitude). We use this for configuring our light scenes.




Does Sparckel have a season clock?


Yes, we can activate it for you. Sparckel even has a ‘season clock’ that can calculate accurately to one minute when the sun will rise and set in a specific geographical location (longitude and latitude), which we use for configuring our light scenes. In the winter, the activating spectrum of light rises later and sets earlier.




How long will a Sparckel last?


The expected service life is ten years if used normally. To achieve this, Sparckel has an aluminium cover guard with a hole pattern to cool the LEDs properly.




How long is the guarantee period?


We give a full two-year warranty, provided your Sparckel is used normally. Please see our General Terms and Conditions.




Can I pay for using Sparckel (pay per use/operational lease)?


Yes, we offer operational lease options to business customers (work & care). You specify how many years you want to experience healthy light for and pay a fixed amount every month. When the lease ends, you can buy the Sparckel and become the owner, but you are not obliged to do so.

We offer leases from two to six years. For example, for a four-year lease, you will pay €46/month, excluding VAT. The amount you have to pay at the end of the lease if you decide to keep your Sparckel is 10 - 20% of the original selling price. You can also extend the service agreement and warranty to cover the entire lease duration so that you do not have to worry about anything.




I am still not sure. Can I try a Sparckel out first?


Of course. Customers need to pay for the Sparckel first. You can then trial it for thirty days. If you are still not convinced after this period, we will refund the purchase amount within five weeks, on the condition that you return your Sparckel to us undamaged in the original packaging and at your own expense.





 
Sparckel