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Acuity Brands 770 5e9090ba72f8c

Look Ma, No Switch

April 10, 2020
EW's editors have run across hundreds if not thousands of new product ideas over the years, but we have never seen anything like Acuity’s idea for a lighting system controlled by brain waves.

We have all heard we use a relatively smaller percentage of our total available brain power, but I don't think many of us ever thought that one day we could turn lights on and off by just thinking about it.

A recent article in the Atlanta Business Journal does a great idea of summarizing Acuity’s concept for a radically new lighting control system that would be controlled by brain waves, and the patent application Acuity filed in Dec. 2019 offers a ton of details on how their R&D folks believe they can adapt the science of electroencephalography (EEG) through a system of electrode implants near the brain in a user and sensors on the lighting equipment to allow people to control lighting with brainwaves.

According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors use EEG to test for epilepsy and other brain disorders by "using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you're asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording.”

Acuity’s description in its U.S. Patent Application 20200110464 of how EEG could be used in lighting control is a fascinating read. It says in part:

“The subject matter of this application is directed toward control systems, more specifically to EEG control of a controllable device such as lighting, building management or building automation control appliances. EEG is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain. It is typically noninvasive, with the electrodes placed along the scalp, although invasive electrodes are sometimes used such as in electroencephalography. EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current within the neurons of the brain.

“The U.S. Air Force demonstrated in the 1980s that pilots wearing simple EEG head gear could control computer displays. Presently, EEG systems are being used to control things like 'quad copters' (four-prop drones)... In fact, EEG sensors may be implemented inside a head of a user. As this technology becomes more prevalent one could imagine that EEG systems could become pervasive."

About the Author

Jim Lucy | Editor-in-Chief of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing

Jim Lucy has been wandering through the electrical market for more than 40 years, most of the time as an editor for Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Marketing newsletter, and as a contributing writer for EC&M magazine During that time he and the editorial team for the publications have won numerous national awards for their coverage of the electrical business. He showed an early interest in electricity, when as a youth he had an idea for a hot dog cooker. Unfortunately, the first crude prototype malfunctioned and the arc nearly blew him out of his parents' basement.

Before becoming an editor for Electrical Wholesaling  and Electrical Marketing, he earned a BA degree in journalism and a MA in communications from Glassboro State College, Glassboro, NJ., which is formerly best known as the site of the 1967 summit meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and Russian Premier Aleksei Nikolayevich Kosygin, and now best known as the New Jersey state college that changed its name in 1992 to Rowan University because of a generous $100 million donation by N.J. zillionaire industrialist Henry Rowan. Jim is a Brooklyn-born Jersey Guy happily transplanted with his wife and three sons in the fertile plains of Kansas for the past 30 years. 

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