Research Horizons


NICU Lighting Tech Licensed to NASA Spinoff

Hospital room cast in purple light

Cincinnati Children’s has licensed technology that mimics sunlight in the NICU of the new Critical Care Building to a NASA spinoff, which is marketing a consumer product called the SkyView Wellness Table Lamp.

California-based Biological Innovations and Optimization Systems LLC, or BIOS, focuses on the biological application of LED lighting for people and plants. 

BIOS announced it has licensed the exclusive rights to the violet light technology invented and developed at Cincinnati Children’s, which optimizes light exposures and can influence circadian rhythms, eye development and metabolism.

The violet light technology is a component in the world’s first full-spectrum, tunable lighting system in a neonatal intensive care unit, which was installed in the Critical Care Building that opened on the Burnet Campus of Cincinnati Children’s in November 2021.

Read more about the NICU lighting system

Richard Lang, PhD, director of the Visual Systems Group at Cincinnati Children’s, has worked with colleagues for more than a decade to better understand the role that sunlight plays in fetal development. Their discoveries, coupled with growing scientific knowledge about the importance of circadian rhythms to human health, sparked the idea to install lights in the NICU that could provide the full range of wavelengths found in sunlight.

“Our recent discoveries showed that violet light plays a crucial role in normal human physiology,” Lang said. “This prompted us to work with BIOS lighting to deploy a new human-centric lighting technology in our neonatal intensive care unit. We believe everyone can benefit from human-centric lighting.”

The licensing agreement comes in the wake of global studies by researchers into sleep complaints and circadian disturbances observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, BIOS stated. The science behind the company’s biological lighting expertise was first developed for the International Space Station.

“BIOS is committed to creating human-centric lighting designed to promote health and wellbeing,” Robert Soler, a former NASA engineer who is vice president of biological research and technology for Bios, said in a news release. “When the opportunity arose, we were excited to work with Cincinnati Children’s and co-develop new human-centric lighting technology. We now offer this technology in our SkyView Wellness Table Lamp.”