A Quebec company is using the same blue light that disrupts sleep to help drivers stay alert
Jacques Dénommée's product targets long-distance drivers and night workers
A Quebec company is using the same wavelength emitted by our laptops — the ones that keep us up at night — to help drivers stay awake.
Bluewake, developed by Quebec City-based Chronophotonix, is a device that attaches to the dashboard of a car.
It looks similar to a GPS or smartphone but it only has one function: to beam out a blue light.
Blue light, a colour in our visible spectrum, shines down naturally from 5 a.m to 2 p.m, according to Jacques Dénommée, president of Chronophotonix.
"That's why we we tend to doze off at two o'clock, not because we eat too much," he said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
The product, developed by Dénommée and University of Laval researcher Marc Hébert, is intended to help people stay more alert when driving, specifically long-distance drivers and night workers.
After impairing substances and speeding, fatigue is the leading cause of driver fatalities.
Fatigue is behind 20 per cent of fatal collisions, according to Transport Canada's website.
Sleep trouble is an issue particularly close to Dénommée's heart. His father worked nights and had trouble getting to sleep during the day, which perpetuated a pattern of fatigue.
His father's sleep trouble motivated Dénommée to start the company.
Dénommée said we can feel the same effect from artificial blue light as from the naturally occurring wavelength. Our body's biological clock recognizes the wavelength and it responds by waking up.
The Bluewake light, which adjusts its intensity in response to the lighting conditions in and around the car, is designed to be inconspicuous and eventually ignored by the driver.
Three industrial companies are currently testing out the the Bluewake with their employees.
Dénommée said there are two big problems that plague night workers: staying awake during their shift, and falling asleep when they are done.
The company also offers glasses that block out blue light emitted by computer screens and smartphones.
He said that using them, along with the Bluewake light, can help break the cycle of fatigue that many night workers face.
Dénommée stressed that getting the proper rest is the safest way to stay alert.