Billing a new refractive lighting solution as “a light source for indoor spaces,” designer Ross Lovegrove – via lighting manufacturer Velux – brings us the Sun Tunnel, a slinky tube that captures light from a sort of domed skylight (itself a refractive device) and directs it down through the roof into rooms below.
First, a bit about light refraction. Unlike simple reflection, in which light waves do not change speed, refraction is a property of light passing from one substance into another of a different density. A good example would be air to glass, when light slows to 200 million meters per second as opposed to its air speed of 300 mm/s. Refraction also involves the angle at which light hits the refractive surface, but can never exceed 90 degrees, or a right angle.
The Sun Tunnel, featured by Red Dot, operates on some of the same principles as the clear, two-liter soda bottle skylight, catching light and reflecting down the inside into a room. The Sun Tunnel, however, is more efficient at the process since it is designed to capture daylight, or sunlight, and spread it around a room. The Sun Tunnel also allows users to direct the incoming light where it’s needed, and adjust it to a level that’s comfortable to the eyes.
Sun Tunnel also goes the soda bottle one better in the aesthetics department, offering buyers a pleasingly rounded silhouette rim against the ceiling from which hangs a globular shape which can be used for directing and adjusting the light. And the concept (of refracting light), while far from new, is almost as pleasing as the electronically controlled, energy-efficient smart glass called SageGlass, which also diffuses light to block harmful solar radiation. Though nothing is quite as uber-cool as the Min/Max House and its use of daylighting.