Two bright ideas for better public lighting

Lighting may be intangible, but its effects are concrete. Research suggests that a simple streetlight may increase productivity and reduce crime—which is one of the reasons that lighting has been a hot topic at Falling Walls 2016.

Delta Putra, a researcher at Tohoku University in Japan, argued that too much of the world lives in the dark. In his home country of Indonesia, Putra said, 95% of people lack access to adequate lighting.

Putra suggested an alternative to electric lighting, based on an engineering strategy called bio-mimicry. Many animals, from fireflies to deep-sea fish, have adapted to dark environments with bioluminscence.

Petra believes that these same biological processes could become a part of plants—for example, “trees of light.” It’s a novel idea that might brighten your day, though it does prompt some questions. For example, can you turn off a tree of light?

Andrea Riccio thinks there’s another way to shed light on the same challenge. He pointed out that lighting consumes a huge amount of electricity, with serious consequences for the environment and electricity systems. As a researcher at University of Naples Federico II, he designed a toroidal helix coil. You can call it a “donut” for short.

Riccio’s coil is a new approach to the old technology of transformers, which are designed to step up or step down the voltage traveling through a wire. It’s made only of copper and plastic, but he said its coiled shape makes it 15% more efficient than traditional transformers.

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