Price (RRP): $799
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.
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.
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.
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?”
Back to the Dyson Lightcycle
US Website here (will be updated to Australia soon)
I have been using it now for about 18-hours. From last night and until I wrote this review today. Dyson will allow me to use if for an extended period (as reviewers should) and I will update this review as necessary.
In the box
- A substantial base that allows 360° rotation of the upright arm
- The ‘crane-like’ 3-axis glide upright arm/pully mechanism with a USB-C port for USB-PD 2.0 5V/1.5A (7.5W) charging
- A 24V/1.25A 30W power supply with a long cable
- The light arm with six CSYS LEDs, a location sensor, BT and tonnes of electronics including a 32-bit processor
Assembly is simple and requires no tools. You can mount the light arm left or right. It is a precision device with effortless adjustment.
- Download the Dyson Link app for Android (tested) or iOS (same as for its other products)
- Pair the Dyson Lifecycle light to the phone by BT (and by inference the internet for firmware and weather/light updates
- Input your age to help it compensate for Arcus Senilis (yellowing of the eye’s lens and cornea)
- Activate IR motion detection (if you wish – I found it handy as it turns off if I am away)
- Activate schedules (if you wish) to turn the light on/off automatically. As the light lasts 60 years and uses little power (up to 10W at most – typically below 5W), you can leave it on for a long time!
There are also a few pre-sets that are handy
- Study mode exceeds recommended light levels for studying while adjusting colour temperature over the day from 3,600 to 5,200°K. So, you work or study under the right type of light for the time of day.
- Relax mode provides light at the warm end of the spectrum (2,900 Kelvin), with low intensity, which is still bright enough for reading. No blue light means you are ready to sleep too.
- Precision mode improves visual acuity by using high-intensity light with a cooler (4,600° K) temperature. Importantly it achieves a high colour rendering index of over 90Ra displaying colours very close to daylight.
- The Boost mode is for tasks that need maximum brightness for up to 20 minutes.
- There are wake-up and sleep modes. The latter deactivates the motion sensor and lower light intensity and colour.
That 60-year light claim
The Dyson claim (like any other light manufacturer) is based on LED-life calculation using L70 measurement, IEC 62717. What that means is 70% output (700 lumens) for 8 hours a day (about 175,000 hours).
The problem with typical LEDs is that they generate a lot of heat. A LED downlight (not cooled) has a life of around ten years (50,000 hours) with colours getting cooler (bluer) as time goes on.
Dyson’s problem was two-fold. Harness LED for energy efficiency but get over the heat/colour consistency issues.
It uses a vapour chamber principle that you find in some flagship smartphones. A vacuum-sealed copper tube draws heat away. Inside, a drop of water evaporates, dissipating heat along the pipe as it condenses, before returning to the LEDs by capillary action. It provides a non-stop, energy-free cooling cycle. And. It is damned effective – you can touch the LED head, and it is cool!
The CSYS LED is custom made for Dyson and first seen in its commercial lighting and later its original task lamp. This is a new version with even longer life.
Light tacking (colour and intensity) is all well and good if the LED can deliver the same colour and brightness over its lifetime.
Dyson can make that claim – and I don’t think anyone will be around in 60 years to dispute it.
Using the Dyson Lightcycle
I have used it for about four hours at night and eight hours during the day. Over time I will see how it goes with cloudy days etc. I can say that it provides perfect, glare-free, easy-on-the-eye, light at all times.
At night it automatically warms the light temperature reducing blue light. That is great because when I go to bed, my melatonin levels are high enough to get to sleep quickly. Since talking to Associate Professor Sean Cain, I have also changed my bedside and kitchen lights to LED Warm white.
It is now afternoon, and the light is very different from the night. In the morning it started bright and cool and over time has lowered its intensity to match the outside ambient light. When I walk outside to the balcony there is no disconcerting jarring – the light inside is as natural as outside.
Moving from the Superlux CFL to the Dyson Lifecyle sees an immediate, less aggressive but no less functional light.
I forgot to mention that you can tap the top to turn it on and swipe to increase/decrease light levels.
GadgetGuy’s take – Dyson Lightcycle works
If you can get over the $799 price, then you will get the perfect task light that automatically adjusts for time of day, age and so much more.
For me, the best thing is reducing blue light on my dual monitors by being able to turn on blue light reduction and reduce brightness. Under CFL light those settings looked awful. Under Dyson Lifecyle they look natural.
Depending on budget, you could put a pair beside your bed, but somehow the design is more in keeping with office/study use. I would not mind one near the couch where I occasionally read a book.
In typical Dyson style, it is an over-engineered, minimalist design – a classic keeper and what I expect from Dyson. It appeals to the inner geek with a wallet to match. It is a perfect gift for a person who has everything because they will not have this – yet.
As a sexagenarian, I was surprised to read that I need four times more light than a whippersnapper 20-year-old. But I am guilty of using my smartphone torch to read restaurant menus in dim light when others don’t need to.