In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Amber Bardon, has a stimulating conversation with LEDdynamics CEO, Neil Cannon. LEDdynamics has a unique tunable white light technology, known as PERFEKTLight, that is designed to mirror natural sunlight from sunrise to sunset to create better sleep. This can lead to enhanced memory, reduced risk of falls, and overall improvement of cardiovascular health.
Listen to the entire episode to discover how LEDdynamics is helping residents in Senior Living communities improve sleep, which promotes healing and aids in patient recovery.
Additional Video Links: YouTube, Prolume
Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.
Welcome to Raising Tuck podcast. I'm your host Amber Barden. Today our guest is Neil Cannon . He is the CEO of LED Dynamics. Neil, welcome to the show.Speaker 2:
Thank you AmberSpeaker 1:
Neil, you and I met recently at a conference where I was giving a presentation and at the end of the presentation you raised your hand and you wanted to let everybody in the room know about your product, which I thought was really interesting and that led us to where we are today to do this podcast. First of all, let's talk about you. Can you do an introduction, tell our listeners who you are, how did you come into this company? And then from there let's talk about what is LED Dynamics.Speaker 2:
Thank you for that. Amber. I'm one of these guys who gets sent to a company that is supposed to make a lot of change happen at that kind of company and I've been successful with that a couple of times in the fiber optic space. I'm pretty technologically focused kind of companies only then I was lucky enough to get involved in a lighting company, I think it was around 2008, which you would think of as a hard time. But we were able to market that company to General Electric, quite a good outcome for both the company and for the acquirer. Once you do this twice, you get a reputation <laugh> guess or something. But I came to this company LED Dynamics primarily because it was a very technically savvy group that was working in a lot of different areas and we've brought a lot of that technical capability to bear on the problem of building better lighting for elder care . We have very creative technology staff and they came up with an idea to literally replicate sunlight inside the building at higher intensities so we can make the lighting do more what's known as the circadian entrainment of the elders, one of the things you discover, but as you get past a certain point, sleep becomes a challenge. The melatonin levels in an elderly person are much, much lower than somebody. Somebody's in their teens or their twenties for that reason. You see sleep problems, sleep problems in elder care environments, usually foretell falls, trips to the er, sadly even broken hips . There's numerous costs that an elder care provider will see because of sleep disturb. We feel like we've got a technology now that should allow people to be say inside, but outside <laugh> if you will. It's a more intense lighting package. If you as a young person tour through one of our installations, you would probably think the lighting is quite bright and that's intentional because the elder eye is not as sensitive as the younger eye . So we have to deliver this light into the eye. That then varies throughout the day. If you think about sunlight in the morning, that'll be quite amber in the middle of the day. It'll be bright white blue thing that's called sort of noontime lighting. And then in the evening you'll get amber lighting. That's what your body's designed to handle. That's how we all live . Before we moved indoors, we had natural light sunlight outside and how we were circadian and trained and we moved inside. Now people basically 80% endorse and in an elder care facility, if it's an icy day, they're not taking anybody outside. If there's any weather at all, it's pretty hard for these folks to get outdoors and then even then to have an adequate amount of time to be exposed to natural light . It's another challenge for many of these facilities. So we thought, let's bring it inside. Let's build up a strategy where operators could have a circadian entrainment, lighting indoors. And that's proved to be pretty successful. The technology we have does exactly what the sun does in the morning. If you looked at it, it's amber middle of the day day. It's quite blue and the end of the day it's again amber and you walk the person through melatonin cycle. Basically in the middle of the day you should have your melatonin very low in the evening. It should be coming back up, preparing you for sleep if you can keep that going. We've worked with sleep researchers and folks that are deep in the topic and they've told us, I , my joke is given them the lighting of La Jolla sunny every day , you don't really wanna follow clouds or gray days 'cause that's only gonna harm people. And now we're coming on to daylight savings changes. These are not beneficial either, so we leave the lighting alone. It works just like the sun inside and operates on a very exacting schedule. That took a few innovations. We had to innovate on the optical front and on the controls front 'cause you have to actively manage the light all day long, which we do. Out of that, we've already got one installation. We've got a group checking out, a second installation that's gonna go live in Virginia and they've been mostly new construction projects because of persistent interest. We've come up with a strategy that will work for home care as well. It's still in beta tests , but it's been pretty well received. We've got a number of people trying it out and they're pretty happy with it because a lot of elders are trying to age at home. We've been recently adding that to our portfolio of product ideas, but the basic idea is to give people essentially what they should have by being outside indoors and make sure that their circadian entrainment is as good as it can be from a lighting perspective. You can't keep 'em people from drinking coffee, you can't keep people from watching TV too late or any of the other things that influence your ability to fall asleep in the evening. But at least the lighting can be 100% encouraging. The circadian entrainment, which is what we're doing.Speaker 1:
Sleep is such an important part of our daily lives. I know when I don't sleep, I am a disaster. I'm really curious, how did this idea come to be? How did the companies get founded in the first place and and how did this problem get identified?Speaker 2:
The company is actually quite a longstanding provider of LED solutions. It's, it was founded by a gentleman named Bill McGrath very early on. He was an innovator in the electronics and control space. Came up with such things as the very first stylist , installable tube, speed up retrofits and stuff like that. And then over time this little company has become a provider to other bigger companies. If you look inside of other people's products, you'd find our know-how in there even some of the largest lighting companies buy our solutions for that. So we were discussing new areas of expansion and there's a field in lighting called color tuning, which is what you have to do to get from amber in the morning to blue in the middle of the day. And amber, again, you gotta change the light as you do it. And Bill had a very clever idea about how to do that, but also correct it because if , if you don't do it just so you wind up with a light that doesn't look right, it's got a little bit of a pink cue to it and you don't want that. So Bill solved that problem with a third chip and then it has kind of a dynamic control range. The technology was actually invented on October 11th, 2019, so I remember that day. And then we put it through a number of stages of development and now it is being installed in elder care facilities precisely for this reason to encourage circadian trainman and enable sleep . So the company has done this from its headquarters in Randolph, Vermont. It is next to a very competent technical college. So we've had a very good ability to recruit talented engineers. In short, the company's idea of inventing this was, it was at first an optical curiosity, we could do this. That's kind of neat. And then we started to dig in and look at plausible applications like it was sold into museums for better quality of light . It was sold into retail for exactly the same reason . Strangely, we went in to talk to the retail customers and they said, you know what? We're all sleeping better <laugh>. And I was like, okay, wait a minute. There's something else going on here. And then we started to dig in and it turned out the Department of Energy through their Pacific Northwest National Labs had done some limited studies on this and had already shown , uh, you could suppress sleep disturbance by having a changing light source. So they already shown that independent study followed up with another one. Harvard did a study on falls. Same conclusion, better lighting equals less problems basically because the residents sleep better. So we thought, okay, that's a good target market. We, through one of our investors, we got connected with progressive elder care group. They've been working with us quite succinctly since then. Kind of in the middle of it, we're deploying first projects and deploying new solutions to meet more of the market demand and, and feeling quite good about it because I think we've got something that's genuinely helpful.Speaker 1:
So from what you're describing about the way that the system works, is this primarily for residents that are in their room most of the time? Or is this applicable to residents that are independent assisted that are moving around and not in their room all day?Speaker 2:
The best is if you can keep a person under the same lighting all day long. In other words, if the lighting's gonna change, let's say a building had skylights in it and you were watching the sun change throughout the day, that would give the person the experience to being outside, not only at least in the character of light, they're receiving maybe not the quantity but the character through the skylights. So we took that approach. We cover the whole area. We call our product perfectly.Speaker 1:
When you say the whole area, do you mean the entire campus?Speaker 2:
We actually would prefer that in the elder care facilities, primarily memory care is where the most challenged residents are residing. In that case, those are usually enclosed areas where access is controlled because some of the folks might get confused and leave. So they have to control the area. So most of the activities of the elder care , memory care patients are within a controlled area. Our thesis is that it should be used by everybody, essentially. This would help at any stage in a person's development as they age. However, it's clear the most acute need is within memory care because that's where the sleep disturbances are most profound. The science is kind of coming round , people are accepting it more and more. It turns out that addition to rods and cones in our eyes, we have this third pathway and that is the control, that's the control of our sleep wake. It's called a intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cell. And that particular cell senses blue light. So if you look at a computer screen late at night and it's emanating a great deal of blue light, it's likely to reawaken you at a time when you don't want to be reawaken. And this science has been worked out over the last couple of decades. And the other science that's come online just since 2012 is an understanding of how important sleep is to our cognitive capability. And it's how your brain clears its metabolites. So when you like go for a workout thing and you wind up with a lot of lactic acid, your lymphatic system will clear that. It turns out your brain has no, such as your brain, doesn't have a way of clearing its metabolites the way the rest of your body does. So what happens is, is you spend time and energy throughout the day, about 25% of that goes into your brain. It's only 2% of mass. So it's a very small organ in your brain relative to the amount of energy it is . And then let waste product, all the byproducts of thinking. But when is it clear ? It turns out it's only cleared in the last stage of deep sleep. If you wake up in the morning and you had four night of sleep and you have a familiar brain fog, you know, you run into the espresso machine, you get the espresso and it counterman some of that stuff, but really it's still there. Now the clinical observation that seems it's been around for years, but it's also been more recently interrogated Alzheimer's patients, the hardest patients that any of these facilities are working with, if they have good sleep, they do not significantly progress in their disease. If they have poor sleep, what is noted is their disease progresses very quickly, probably gonna be at some point a tie up of the sleep behavior and the propensity to either have Alzheimer's or have Alzheimer's. That is unstoppable. That work was done. And we cite that in our discussions and it does resonate, especially with medical professionals that work in elder care , went up to UVM , talked to the gerontology lab, the research is not fully defined and we'd like to be able to say to people, put this in, everybody will sleep fine. And the answer is, it's not quite that clear. But clearly coming out of the research is these indicators that this is an important topic. And of course it plays immediately to resident satisfaction. If they're sleeping better, they like where they are better. And that's what we're endeavoring to do is give people an environment where sleep is easy for especially these vulnerable populations folks initially first. And then I think what'll happen is the rest of the facilities will be booked in this way.Speaker 1:
If a community would like to move forward with implementing the solution, what would they need to have ready? What would the install look like? Can you walk us through that?Speaker 2:
The vast majority of our projects fall into two categories. One is they're building a new facility and they'd like to put in the most modern lighting. In that case, it's very straightforward. We work with the architects who are working on the building and many of them are actually increasingly aware that this is important. The last project we worked on with a very progressive architect gentleman named Steve <inaudible> , and we didn't have to convince him of anything, so to speak. So he was a very strong advocate. And why do they want this? Because they want better projects, they want things to be done better. And then of course, the operator, we have a philosophy of just making everything quote unquote set and forget. So the idea is that you shouldn't have to do anything to this. Once you install it, it's very simple to reset it and change it if you need to. The vast majority of lighting systems usually don't get reset. They're usually put in once and and just operate. So we start it out with a set and forget idea. Now the harder proposal in some ways is to do a retrofit. A retrofit of a building that has a lot of different types of lighting that might've been modified over years can be a bit more challenging. But we've succeeded in that vein as well. We have what's known as retrofit kits, meaning we can go into existing fixtures, we can put the light engine in. It's just a set of ICS and LEDs that we insert into the light fixture. And then it works just the same as it would in the new construction. The last project we wanted to do, which was strongly asked , many of the residents come with their own lamps. So we came up with a strategy of using color changing bulbs with a specific type of software and control so that even the lamp next to their bedside or over their desks would be controlled in exactly the same way. So everything is moving just like sunlight. And we've become increasingly expert at dealing with both the retrofit scenario and the new construction. I wouldn't expect that an operator would need to do more than allow us in with their facilities managers or their architects if it were a new construction. And we can carry the process forward from there. Most of the discussions we have now are directly with operators. The vast majority of operators are listening intently. The biggest stops to our work are typically the company can't afford it. If they can't afford it, are they allocating resources elsewhere at this point? And then of course, the last piece of the puzzle is everybody wants that definitive study that says, this lighting does exactly this, and we're working on that. We don't have it all yet with our friends at p and l . Slowly getting to the point where we can make stronger claims. In short, I think it's just a matter of us interacting with the operators, their agents, architects, or the people that are looking after the buildings directly.Speaker 1:
Neil, this has been really interesting. I've really learned a lot from everything that you've shared on this podcast. Is there anything else that you think our listeners should know?Speaker 2:
I think there's one last point to make in this process. I'm actually gonna quote a guy who's quite a good sleep researcher, a gentleman named Ken Wright. He runs the sleep research program at University of Colorado, one of six labs worldwide. And we brought him this and set it on his desk and he said, what is this? And I said, well, it varies just like sunlight does. And he , he looked up at us and kind of surprised. He said, well, that oughta work. And then , uh, there's another gentleman who's in a similar way, he works at the University of Oregon, a guy named Kevin Houser , and we sent him the light. He's got it over his desk, says , that's the best light I've ever seen. It literally is perfect light. It's light as we should have had it all along. It's just that the technology is only now getting to the point where we can do that. You know, fluorescent tubes, no chance incandescent bulbs, you couldn't get there. But with our LED technology, we can do this now. It's just now becoming a value proposition for people.Speaker 1:
Thank you so much. Neil . Tell me where can our listeners find all about you? Where they can they get more information if they wanna reach out and get in touch with you?Speaker 2:
We maintain more than one website. LED Dynamics is the holding company over a couple of other things. We sell B two C through a group called LED Supply, and we sell directly into the fixture market or a division we have called Pro Bloom . You go to either LED dynamics.com or pro.com , you'll see significant reference to perfect light technology, color changing technology aimed at this. Lastly, I do have a YouTube video on the whole topic that's a little more elaborate with slides and everything. And that's under LED Dynamics, Neil Cannon.Speaker 1:
Great. Thank you so much Neil. And listeners, if you'd like to provide feedback on this episode or if you have ideas for a future episode, you can find email@example.com and raising tech podcast everywhere on social media. And as always, thank you for listening.