Welcome to the airport lounge that tackles jet lag

THERE'S probably no form of human circadian disruption more familiar to most of us than jet lag, that dreadful feeling of tiredness that comes after leaping across multiple time zones on a long flight.

So if tunable LED lighting can help keep peoples’ circadian clocks in check, why not enlist LEDs in the war against jet lag? After all, blue frequencies can stimulate, and ambers can relax — it’s a pattern established long ago by the Sun and one that controls our bodies’ vital circadian rhythms.

In one of the latest developments, Scandinavian airline SAS has taken the battle  into the airport lounge. It has fitted its premium waiting area at Oslo Airport with a collection of tunable LED lights to help passengers dose up with stimulation or relaxation as they see fit.

The SAS Lounge at Oslo Airport. The man in the background is in the ‘daylight booster’ zone, bathed in 6500K LED light from the panel to his left. Pic: Philips

‘The concept of SAS’s next generation lounges is to create a unique experience and an environment that meets the needs and wishes of our guests while traveling,’ said Cilla Nordenberg, concept and development manager at SAS. ‘The ability to impact or accentuate mood through ambience and physically energise people through light underlines our commitment to serve the needs of our travellers and make our lounges truly memorable.’

The lounge has nine separately lit areas. If you’re a traveller in desperate need of a daylight boost, then you can head for — where else — the ;daylight booster’ zone. It’s a curtained-off area where you can sit at a table with your laptop while a fabric-covered wall plies you with 6500K light. 6500K, in case you need reminding, ranks high on the icy blue scale, so it might jolt you awake just as well as a cup of coffee would. The light itself comes from LEDs hidden behind the translucent cloth. Users can dim the output, but the colour temperature remains constant.

You’d have more options in one of three of the ‘Hue rooms’. These are smaller private areas where you can shut the door and adjust the Philips LED Hue lights to one of six settings, ranging from relaxing — such as the dimmed warm ‘night’ setting or a sunrise setting called ‘savannah’ — to an ‘energize’ setting of cold white light. The choices also include ‘read’, ‘concentrate’ and for those who really know how to have a good time in the airline lounge, ‘party’, which delivers a yellow, pink and green scheme.

The human-centric lighting in the SAS lounge is not all about circadian entrainment. A lot of it is ambience and experience. For example, Philips’ luminous textile panels in the ceiling of the lounge’s work area help create a soft relaxing environment.

The same luminous textile panels also grace the walls of the lounge’s wellness area, where the main activity consists of massages.

And if that’s not enough of a light show, there’s more, like the luminous pattern wall that greets you at the reception area, depicting the twinkling lights of a city as a plane lands, delivered through a specially cut metal sheet.

‘Light plays an important role on how people actually feel’, Astrid Simonsen Joos, market leader for Philips Lighting Nordics, told Lux. ‘We wanted to create a positive and memorable experience in the new lounge. Our lighting concept aims to energise guests before they travel or offer them a space to relax and recharge.’

SAS says it may eventually equip some or all of its 18 other lounges in Europe and North America with similar installations.