Lightwear: An Exploration in Wearable Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

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“Lightwear” consists of a series of garment- and accessory-based light-emitting wearables designed to administer light therapy for on-the-go treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). To date, there have been few successful products developed for wearability and portability to ease the uncomfortable nature of traditional light box treatment.  Lightwear explores the integration of light into 3D printed and textile substrates to create fashion-forward wearables to address issues related to BLT efficacy, usability, adoption, and convenience. This work was recently presented at TEI 2015 and was developed at Microsoft Research by Halley Profita (CS PhD at CU Boulder), Asta Roseway, and Mary Czerwinski.

Wearable light therapy prototypes (clockwise starting from left): fascinator hat, glasses, golfer's hat, cowl, hood.

Wearable light therapy prototypes (clockwise starting from left): fascinator hat, glasses, golfer’s hat, cowl, hood.

Bright Light Therapy (BLT) has been used to treat SAD for more than 25 years. While light boxes continue to serve as the predominant method of treatment, it often requires a user to sit at a dedicated location for a sustained period of time (30-60 minutes), rendering therapy inconvenient and resulting in unsatisfactory compliance rates. Other portable light treatment options, such as light visors, exist. However, they remain socially stigmatizing, obtrusive, and continue to obstruct many of the activities that portability seeks to solve. Our motivation for researching mobile treatment options comes from low adherence rates around using light boxes and light visors. New light-emitting materials and smaller hardware profiles permit for the exploration of novel, wearable form factors that can serve as alternative light therapy treatment options. The ‘Lightwear’ series was developed to explore how non-traditional textile and wearable forms of light therapy can help with BLT adoption and compliance.

Full Paper Citation:

Profita, Halley, Asta Roseway, and Mary Czerwinski. “Lightwear: An Exploration in Wearable Light Therapy.” Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction. ACM, 2015.