Dyson Lightcycle is a very smart desk lamp, not a lightweight bicycle
4.7Overall Score
Name: Dyson Lightcyle task lamp
Price (RRP): $799
Manufacturer: Dyson

The Dyson Lightcycle is an entirely new and unique type of task lighting that intelligently tracks things light time of day, location, ambient light, movement and even compensates for older and rheumy eyes.

And in true Dyson style, the Dyson Lightcycle took more than 892 prototypes and 90 engineers spending more than a small countries GDP to develop. Ah, Dyson, you have done it again. In fact, it was Sir James son Jake that was responsible for this – chip of the old capitalist’s block.

Jake Dyson

To answer the question you should not ask the Dyson Lightcycle costs $799 (yes, for a desk lamp) and looks vaguely like a cross between a draftsman’s T-square glider ruler and an ultra-modern Objet d’art.

Damn, there is a lot of science in this, and you need to understand it before you rush out and buy something you never knew you needed.

What is task lighting?

Task lighting helps perform a specific task better. If you were a jeweller, dentist or doctor you would have an articulated magnifying glass/lamp for close work. Most ‘repairers’ need increased light levels over the typical 400 lux overhead office light.

Well, as a writer who sits all day, every day (and night) in front of dual monitors I need task lighting. The aim is to enable me to see my desk and monitors in a glare-free environment with a warm, flicker-free light. And to help preserve my sight!

For over the past decade, I have used the Superlux ‘Pixar’ style Equipoise cantilevered desk lamp that uses CFL (compact fluorescent lamps). It outputs 1224 lumens at 4000K neutral white. It is flicker-free, something that typical overhead 50Hz fluorescent lights are not! I note that Superlux now has LED, 660 lumens, dimmable and colour changeable versions but they make the lamps that last so I have not upgraded.

Superlux

Since November 2018, I have also been using the BenQ WiT Screenbar that produces a constant 500 Lux on my desk and has dual colour LEDs that can adjust from 2700° Kelvin to 6500K. It is also flicker-free.

BenQ WiT

These examples are not to take away from the Dyson Lifecycle at all but to say that task lighting is not just a desk lamp with a LED bulb. It is all about delivering the correct lumens, colour, and flicker-free light to help minimise eye strain and macular degeneration.

Dyson Lightcycle task light – what problems did it set out to solve?

According to Jake Dyson, he set out to make a light that

  • Adjusts to ambient light levels to keep a constant light level at the desk (needs an ambient light sensor). It adjusts from 100-1000 lumens.
  • Emulates the outdoor light (natural) temperature during the day (important for the body’s circadian clock). Needs app to access global light and weather data.
  • Dual LEDs to colour tune light from 2700-6500K (warm to cool)
  • Lasts up to 60 years (LEDs tend to burn out in 5-10 years).
  • Low or no light flicker
  • Blue light control for circadian cycles
  • Uses a balanced, height adjustable and swivelling arm to adjust light delivery

Who would have thought that there was so much science behind a light?

Dyson Australia bought in an expert in Circadian rhythms, Associate Professor Sean Cain from Monash University to explain the effects of lighting on wellbeing, productivity and sleep. Sean is also the Primary Chief Investigator on the ‘Alert Safe Human Centric Lighting Project’ so he has the authority and gravitas to talk on the subject.

Sean said that for most of humankind’s evolution the only light it had was sunlight (natural warm light) from dawn to dusk and fire/candle/gas light (warm) from dusk to dawn. Hence circadian rhythms mean we are active in light and less active (sleep) in the dark.

But since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879 (and by 1925, 50% of US homes had changed from gas lamps to electric lights), humans can control light 24/7. And as we moved from incandescent (warm) light to fluorescent to LED we have increasingly moved to blue (cool light) spectrum.

But that 24/7 control and the abundance of blue light can upset circadian rhythms, e.g. shift workers, jet lag etc. Sean said, “Blue Light is as bad for your health as smoking. We love it, it is bright, and we are attracted like moths to a bug zapper” (that use blue light).

Now Sean is not one of those hippy ratbag academics. No, he is all about the science, and he fears that the overuse of blue light will come back to bite us in the form of health and wellness issues that our parents never faced. To quote, “What the bloody hell were we thinking exposing ourselves to so much blue light?”