New ‘Safe’ Screens Being Developed for Electronic Devices
Technology firms are developing “safe” screens for various devices in response to concerns that smartphones, tablets and computers are disrupting our sleep patterns.
Scientists say that the blue light emitted by electronic devices affects our quality of sleep and may even harm the retinas of our eyes. Our circadian rhythm, or body clock, is believed to govern our sleep and waking patterns, and is regulated by the senses – most importantly the way the eye perceives light and dark. Using technological gadgets with light-emitting screens before bed interferes with this rhythm, keeping you awake when you shouldn’t be.
Neuroscientist Dr Anne-Marie Chang is one of the many researchers to have investigated the issue. Her research, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that screens have “an extremely powerful effect” on the body’s natural sleep pattern, causing users to have a worse night’s sleep with less rapid eye movement – a stage of sleep thought to be crucial because it is when people consolidate memories.
“Our most surprising finding was that individuals using the e-reader would be more tired and take longer to become alert the next morning,” she says.
The safe screens being developed to tackle this issue emit less light from the violet end of the blue spectrum – the most harmful part. These screens feature in products exhibited by several companies at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin this week, including Philips, Asus and ViewSonic.
Paul Gray, an analyst at the business research firm IHS, says: “We’ve been told from a very early age by parents that too much screen time in front of a TV or a computer is bad. So a ‘safe’ screen might resonate with consumers.”
Some researchers, however, are sceptical about blue light fears, arguing that the real problem is not the devices, but simply the fact that people are spending too many hours a day using them.
Serge Picaud, of the Institute of Sight in Paris, says: “We should not be so afraid that we bin all our screens. The light intensities produced by our screens are still relatively weak compared to sunlight.”