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National Runner Up

LUX

A headset for transcranial light therapy.

  • This is LUX, a headset for transcranial light therapy.

  • Here you can see how much light penetrates the human skull in different areas.

  • These are some of the prototypes I built to get a better understanding for ergonomics.

  • These are the areas of the brain that react to light.

  • The headset is available in three sizes.

What it does

LUX is a headset that illuminates the user’s brain to trigger the release of stimulating hormones that treat the symptoms of depression and insomnia.


Your inspiration

Did you know that up to 90% of our time is spent indoors? As a result, up to 50% of the global population suffers from a Vitamin D insufficiency, and the World Health Organization predicts that depression will become the next major public health crisis. Being personally familiar with this disease through a family member, I had a special ambition to try and disrupt the very saturated market of conventional products for light therapy.


How it works

Certain parts of the human brain have photoreceptors (similar to those in the human eye), that can react to both natural and artificial light to trigger the release of hormones. This effect has already been thoroughly explored and sets the groundwork for many conventional light therapy devices. A recent thesis project at the University of Oulu in Finland, has scientifically proven that it is also possible to apply a light source directly into the human ear canal and command a similar process to  take place more efficiently. As part of my research, I further investigated what areas of the brain are responsible for the release of stimulating hormones, and calculated that a light source of at least 2000 lumen would be required  to guarantee a successful treatment. 


Design process

After discovering that the University of Oulu in Finland had conducted a promising study to test the effect of transcranial light therapy, I arranged to meet and discuss this research with Dr. Elisabeth Locker, a neurologist and the 'Krankenhaus Hietzing’ in Vienna, Austria. She supplied me with a real human skull which I used in combination with a regular phone flashlight to physically see which areas are most easily permeable by light. This experiment showed me that the area around the temples is most suitable for applying a light source and I used this insight to construct a series of prototypes in different sizes and materials. To gain a better understanding for the technical components, I built a functional prototype that was again cross-referenced with the human skull. After defining the dimensions and technical package, I used the current Audi design language as a source of inspiration to work on the exterior ideation in a 2D format. The final design was then constructed using SolidWorks, rendered in KeyShot and built using a 3D printer. 


How it is different

According to ’Global Market Insights’, the market size for light therapy products was valued at 811 million USD in 2018 and is expected to increase by 4,5% until 2025. There is an unprecedented demand by consumers for physical solutions to their lack of exposure to natural sunlight and the resulting health issues. I found that the current range of physical solutions consists almost exclusively of large stationary devices with chunky aesthetics, that require a long exposure time to show any significant results. Hence, my solution has several unique benefits that make therapy much more discrete, convenient and efficient. Due to its small size and robust carrying case, the device can easily be stored in any bag or purse, while only requiring three short sessions per day, each lasting exactly 8 minutes and 20 seconds (which is a reference the time it takes for light to travel the distance from the sun to earth).


Future plans

By participating in the James Dyson Award, I hope to gain further publicity and media interest which can help me get in contact with experts and manufacturers to actually produce a functional prototype of my final design. Through my connections in the healthcare sector I will be able to conduct small scale trials and to further validate the hypothesis. I deeply believe in the power of design and by helping to realize this project, I am convinced that the  potential of such an innovative device can be fully utilized for the greater good of mankind. 


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