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CIE Research Strategy


 August 2016

Light and lighting technologies are essential to modern daily life, touching on its every aspect. These technologies require well-founded knowledge, both fundamental and applied, to ensure that they can be used with confidence in their safety and quality. CIE publications provide that confidence. They are based on the strongest available scientific evidence and follow a rigorous review and ballot process. To develop consensus-based documents fit for the future requires that scientists engage now in building the knowledge base that will support them.

The research topics listed here are those judged by the CIE as needing immediate attention by the research community in support of developments in lighting technology and application. Publications in the peer-reviewed literature on these topics will provide the basis for the next generation of CIE technical reports and standards.

Industry, academia, and research institutes alike can take inspiration from this list of research topics. CIE particularly invites allied fields – medicine, engineering, information technology and others – to join with us in addressing these complex questions. CIE calls on national and international research funders to create opportunities that will enable the research community to provide this necessary support to the CIE. Together, we thus will satisfy the needs of industry, regulators, and the public for knowledge, standards, and guidance so that all can enjoy the best possible light.

Top Priority Topics


1   Recommendations for Healthful Lighting and Non-Visual Effects of Light

1.1   Description of research

Although light is defined as electromagnetic radiation that provides the stimulus for vision, we now know conclusively that photodetection also has many other essential physiological and psychological effects in humans and other organisms. Fundamental photobiology research adds to this knowledge base daily. However, targeted research, performed in concert with applied lighting scientists, will be required to put this knowledge to use as part of integrated lighting recommendations and designs.

1.2   Key research questions

In May 2016, CIE published a detailed research agenda for this topic (CIE 218:2016). Selected examples are given here:

  • What pattern of daily light and dark exposure (intensity, spectrum, timing, duration) best supports well-being, both for circadian regulation and acute effects during waking hours (e.g. alertness, emotion, social behaviour)? How does this vary throughout life, from infancy to old age?
  • In addition to circadian regulation, what physiological and psychological processes are influenced by ocular light detection?
  • There are known medical uses of light to treat certain skin disorders and hyperbilirubinemia. There is speculation that inadequate light exposure during childhood contributes to the development of myopia. These ideas lead to the general question: Are there behavioural or physiological effects of extra-ocular absorption of optical radiation that should influence lighting recommendations?
  • The advances in photobiology and psychology offer the potential to use light exposure both for medical treatment (e.g. phototherapy for mood disorders) and to improve well-being in healthy people. This has excited many people, witness the series of existing CIE publications and current activities on this topic.
  • Advances in lighting and controls technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to save energy along with opportunities to enhance health and well-being. A comprehensive research effort will direct the development of these new technologies to the benefit of all.
  • Today's market seems to include some applications of "human centric lighting" that go beyond what scientists would say that firmly established knowledge can support. Lighting has the potential for positive and negative effects on humans when applied in the right or wrong way, respectively. As in all emerging fields of knowledge, including “human centric lighting”, continuation and strengthening of research activities are needed to further enhance knowledge and to develop clear evidence-based guidance for users on how to avoid negative and achieve positive effects of light for humans.
  • In parallel, environmental considerations lead to pressure to reduce interior light levels, whether provided by daylight and or electric lighting systems, in order to reduce energy use for both lighting and space conditioning (heating and cooling). This appears to be in opposition to the current knowledge, which suggests that most people receive too little optical radiation each day. Knowledge of dose‑response relationships – which themselves demand metrics and devices capable of measuring dose accurately – is needed to resolve this conflict.
  • A small number of people experience a range of health conditions due to the spectral emission of light sources or due to the temporal characteristics of light received at the eye. Apart from photo-induced epilepsy, little is known about the triggers for these health conditions. It is important that consideration is given to these issues to ensure that some sectors of the community are not unnecessarily excluded from artificially-lit environments.

1.3   Justification of the need for the proposed research topic      

1.4   Related current activities in CIE



1.5   Existing CIE publications



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