Smart Lighting Undergraduates Adapt Google Glass for Bio Research

Achievement date: 

Students from the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications ERC (LESA), based at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), modified Google Glass to create a personal light measurement system. The prototype relies on an Android app to measure light dosage and other biodata relevant to a person’s circadian rhythm. The students demonstrated this work at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2014 in the Eureka Park Tech Zone – an NSF-sponsored area specially designed to support early start-up ventures.


Well-maintained circadian rhythms contribute to personal heath, happiness, and overall productivity; but the ability to track a person’s exposure to light is a critical challenge. This Google Glass adaptation makes it possible to monitor human light exposure and track biometric signals; collected data is then reported back to the user for insight on personal sleep cycles affecting health and well-being. Google has expressed interest in the adapted prototype under a Non-Disclosure Agreement.  LEDs Magazine and other media outlets also wrote about the CES demonstration. 


There is an ideal amount of light exposure required to support human sleep cycles. Since LEDs uniquely offer a tunable light spectrum, they can potentially be used to help fill any void in a person’s natural light exposure. The LESA ERC created the personal light management system via Google Glass as a possible means of developing an early diagnostic tool for more closely studying human circadian rhythm and lighting under real world conditions.

Three Google Glass units were modified as early prototypes for the CES demonstration. The ERC’s Industrial Liaison Officer, Silvia Mioc, attended the show with several students. The objectives were to give consumers a glimpse of innovative lighting applications that are currently in development and to connect with new companies who may partner with the Center to help make human-centric smart lighting systems a reality. The student team found that all of the existing Google Glass features are not needed for the personal light measurement system; thus, a much lower-cost version could be made available to consumers.