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Lightest office in NL at HTCE 10 in Eindhoven!


"Did you know that the lightest office in the Netherlands is at High Tech Campus no 10?" said Maarten Voorhuis of Sparckel part of Fronthouse Innovative Concepts B.V. At least we did, because the daylight lamps are on in his office in our hub Mu at the HTCE!

In Sparckel's office at 10 High tech Campus, the start-up's 36-square-meter space contains and hangs five lights, and it is fully equipped with windows on two sides. Those windows don't provide nearly the amount of light needed, Voorhuis says: ''It's all about the light from the lamps.''

In forty seconds, Voorhuis shows how the light mimics the rhythm of day and night. Amber light in the early morning to wake up to. During the morning, activating, bluer light is added. After noon, the light becomes progressively warmer. ,,We make more colorful drawings by that light than by that very activating one. It seems to be better for your creativity.'' Toward evening, the light intensity decreases further as a signal that it is time to slow down and go to sleep.

First sunny spring day

Working from home is the watchword in this day and age. That this includes a responsible workplace seems only logical. But that enough light makes you more productive and makes you feel better is less obvious. ,,We stay healthy when we have a good day and night rhythm and our biological clock responds to light. Compare it to the energy you get from the first sunny day of spring after a gray winter period.'' The internal daily rhythm is genetic and varies from person to person; there are morning and evening people, for example. ''Our biological clock has evolved over millions of years. Human beings then lived mostly outdoors.'' The industrial revolution changed that, Voorhuis said. ''Today we are 90 percent indoors.'' And our biological clock is not set up for that: ''If you want to keep your biological clock happy, we will all have to start talking about how much light falls on our eye.''

The number of lux is the measure of light intensity, one lux is the amount of light from a candle one meter away. A sunny day with direct sunlight has 100 thousand lux, a cloudy day 10 thousand. Actually, everyone should use a light meter to experience how much light you get in, says Voorhuis. ,,You can buy one for 35 euros or download it for free on your smartphone. The latter option is less accurate but gives a good sense of proportion.'' 

1000 lux

According to winter depression specialist Ybe Meesters, clinical psychologist at Groningen State University, a healthy rhythm requires 1,000 lux on your eye. A standard office space often has a lux of 500 on your desk. European standards for workplace lighting are mainly based on the amount of light you need to do your job. ''That light is also healthy, we have actually known since 2002.'' That's when researchers discovered that our eyes communicate with our biological clock via a separate nerve pathway, Voorhuis says. In 2007, Voorhuis worked at Philips Lighting and went around hospitals with the message that light is healthy. ''Doctors found the story very credible.'' Only paying for healthy light was another matter: "The reaction was often: 'We don't want it that badly. Why is it so expensive?' 

208 LED lights

Even now Voorhuis gets that question. ''What we have to get away from is that you buy a lamp. You buy light.'' Sparckel's lighting consists of 208 LED bulbs and a chip that allows the light to follow a rhythm. There is a whole construction of 196 lights that provide direct light and 12 lights aimed at the ceiling for indirect light. ''This way we prevent the light from being too bright and making you squint your eyes.'' A three-and-a-half-pound fixture made of aluminum serves as cooling, ''because otherwise you'll never get that amount of light done.'' There are several models including a standing and a hanging version.

Technology separate from building

What also made it expensive some ten years ago was that the technology surrounding that biodynamic light was part of the building, Voorhuis continues. "It occurred to me what if we detached the technology from a building. "That was in 2011, and the seed for Sparckel was planted," Voorhuis says.

,,This healthy light you can 'plug in' anywhere and take with you when you move. I often heard decision-makers in elder care say that they didn't want to invest so much money in an old building because of all sorts of budget cuts. There were also difficult discussions about who owns and uses a building. I thought if I just disconnect that then I can get rid of that.''

Voorhuis compliments the ecosystem of the Brainport region. Together with TU/e and Fontys, he further developed the lighting concept and put it on the market. Besides Voorhuis, there are two more people on Sparckel's pay-roll. ,,But we work together with designers from GBO design. Our electronics and software develops software specialist Peter Compen and we do the production and assembly at INNO metal & assembly.'' The start-up also works with Phuntronix of Soesterberg for the electronics and engineering.


Customers the start-up has include healthcare and offices where Sparckel's light appears. The light also helps give you an extra push. ,,One of my customers is a law firm. I know that when some lawyers have to plead the next day, they give themselves a boost of activating light and work through the evening to finish the pleading.'' That boost does have an effect on your sleep because, Voorhuis says: ''Don't expect to be able to sleep immediately afterwards. You also have to scale back that active light to quieter light. With that boost, you consciously manipulate your rhythm.

The GGZ Eindhoven and University Tilburg also conducted research in 2018 using Sparckel's biodynamic light. This showed that the light has an inhibiting effect on dementia. Currently, a large study is underway on the effect of the light on office workers at a large Dutch company. ''I can't say anything about that right now, except that the results are promising.''