PhD in visual appraisal, mental restoration and invigoration

Updated: 22 days ago
Deadline: 30 Sep 2021

The Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences of Eindhoven University of Technology has a PhD training position in intelligent, human-centric lighting in the Human Technology Interaction (HTI) group, to work in the multidisciplinary IntelLight+ project.

Research has established that human physiology and psychology are highly affected by work and living conditions, and may contribute to health conditions such as stress, burnout and depression. In particular, light is an environmental factor that can directly and indirectly impact health and vitality through processes acting on sleep/wake efficiency, arousal and alertness, as well as comfort and visual interest. Current insights in non-visual, non-image forming (NIF) mechanisms dictate that high (blue-enhanced) illuminance levels at the eye are needed to establish a strong light-dark signal to the circadian clock and associated good sleep. However, from the perspective of the image-forming (IF) pathway, these high illuminance levels challenge visual comfort and user acceptance. At the same time, recent studies suggest that ambient luminance levels and distributions can - via traditional visual mechanisms - affect attention, visual interest, alertness, and relaxation. The question that emerges is whether these positive psychological effects, driven by spatial and temporal dynamics of illumination —such as the complexity of the spatial light distribution or the speed of changes in light levels—, could be used to increase the user acceptance of lighting solutions aimed to promote NIF alertness-enhancing effects, and to contribute to occupant comfort, health, and wellbeing.

PhD position: Spreading the light -- Understanding visual appraisal, mental restoration and invigoration as a function of light distribution

The current project aims to address this question by assessing the influence of the spatial and temporal distribution of light on visual appraisals (comfort, sensation and acceptance), mental restoration (mood, stress) and invigoration (vitality and alertness). The challenge that lies ahead is the creation of highly engaging, bright, and visually comfortable lit environments, which are also thoughtful of today's sustainability demands. During this project, we will integrate knowledge and methods from research on perception, psychology, chronobiology, lighting, and psychophysiology. Focusing on image forming processing, we will measure objective (e.g., physiology) and subjective (e.g., fascination) indicators, and make use of simulations (virtual reality) as well as real conditions to come to understand better the effects of spatial and temporal light distribution and their underlying processes. The ambition of this project is to advance the development of healthy lighting scenarios and light design guidelines to maximally benefit human functioning, ensuring both restorative effects and high visual comfort and satisfaction.

The HTI group is seeking an enthusiastic, ambitious young researcher to work in this team on the topic of light(ing) conditions, comfort, alertness, and stress recovery. The tasks of the PhD student will be to set up and conduct a series of studies (laboratory and field studies) integrating insights from environmental psychology and lighting research, to write scientific articles, and to complete a PhD dissertation within four years. The student will also participate in conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities, and contribute to teaching.

You will conduct your research under the supervision of Dr. Kynthia Chamilothori and Prof. Yvonne de Kort. You will be a member of the light group of HTI, the IntelLight+ team, and of TU/e's Intelligent Lighting Institute. The research is performed in close collaboration with Signify (Dr. Kees Teunissen).

Context: The IntelLight+ Project   

Human-centric lighting should benefit users, but its implementation is no clear-cut process. Light affects human health and wellbeing in many ways. Among others, it powerfully regulates our internal circadian rhythm but also drives visual performance, comfort, and experience. To complicate matters, the first process (our biological clock) requires very bright daytime light, although most of us are not consciously aware of this need; the second process typically makes people dim the light. Moreover, lighting needs and preferences differ widely between individuals, but also within one person, for instance with time of day, task, environment, or company. On top of this, we are all very much aware of the pressing need to save energy.

The IntelLight+ project builds on the latest insights in new light sources, Internet of Things developments, and how lighting impacts human functioning. IntelLight+ takes an integrative approach in developing: (1) algorithms needed to infer, and even predict ahead of time, a user's context to accommodate user needs and preferences, (2) innovative light designs which allow to deliver sufficiently bright light (at the right place and time) that is also pleasant, mentally restoring, and comfortable, and (3) new design methodologies that allow to calculate the optical designs that current human and sustainability lighting needs require with optimal efficiency, higher optical quality and better utilization.

In total, there will be three PhD candidates and three PDEng candidates (in the department of Mathematics and Computer Science, the department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, and in the department of the Built Environment) working on this project. All these departments are part of the Intelligent Lighting Institute. Moreover, the project is a close collaboration with Signify.

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