The Photon Shower is a concept product debuted as an installation at the 2013 TED Conference in Long Beach California. Working with Oxford Professor Russell Foster, we leveraged recent discoveries in ophthalmology and neuroscience to design and fabricate a device that diagnoses, and remedies jet lag.
Professor Foster’s research has revealed that there is a third type of light sensitive cell in the eye that’s not part of the visual system. We use rods and cones to see, but these cells – photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGCs) – sense ambient light in the environment and use this to directly set the internal clock in our brains. Thus our bodies stay entrained with the day/night cycle where we live. Exposing these cells to a specific type of blue light found in nature at dawn and dusk can have dramatic effects on our bodies. If we see it in the morning, it perks us up and delays the onset of sleep. If we see the same light in the evening, it brings on the onset of sleep. By seeking out or avoiding this light at specific times during our circadian cycle, we can manipulate our bodies to adjust to new time zones more quickly.
The Photon Shower turns this research into a hypothetical consumer product and service for frequent travelers. They input the origin and destination of recent or upcoming travel using a touch screen embedded in the shower. Based on their inputs, a tailored light therapy session is generated using light based animations that fill the room, accompanied by synesthetic sound.
Upon exiting the shower, visitors receive a customized recovery plan that outlines the best times to seek out and avoid light to speed up jet lag recovery.