APEX in Profile: Lauren Fleming

APEX in Profile: Lauren Fleming

Image: Lauren Fleming

Lauren Fleming
Senior Research & Development Scientist
STG Aerospace

Lauren graduated from the University of Dundee with a PhD in experimental physics. At STG Aerospace, she is involved in developing new products, researching the next big thing in electrical lighting, and all things related to human-centric lighting.

Fun Facts:
Now listening to: No Such Thing as a Fish (podcast)
Favorite airport: AMS
Seatback or PED?
The future of flight will be: Simple
Favorite social network: Instagram

Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
I really enjoy the variation my role has to offer, from working on-wing, carrying out tests of light levels within the cabin, to meeting with universities to discuss development projects. One day I’ll be using our state-of-the-art photometric equipment as part of the development process of our products, the next I’ll be discussing the future of lighting with university students, and there’s lots more in between. It never feels boring.

How is aircraft lighting being misused?
According to a report by Counterpoint, the cabin lighting industry was worth $961 million in 2015, with the industry witnessing a strong switch from fluorescent to LED. From our experience, airlines are keen to upgrade, but are not interested in complexity. Retrofit systems offer millions of different colors, but airlines do not want to offer disco lighting; in fact, when it comes down to it, they don’t use anything close to the full extent. As a result, lighting within the cabin is misused and oversaturated, with little to no consideration for human-centric aspects.

Typically, we have found airlines will only select four light settings, which usually include a shade of blue and white. By considering all aspects of lighting within these four shades – such as saturation levels, color temperature and the depth of hue – we can provide a high-quality, simple lighting solution.

“From our experience, airlines are keen to upgrade, but are not interested in complexity.”

What kinds of experiments are you running these days?
At present, we’re researching human-centric lighting in collaboration with the Delft University of Technology. Lighting can elicit all sorts of responses, from feeling happy, refreshed and alert when outside with plenty of sunshine to the migraines and fatigue associated with bad indoor lighting. We want to make sure that passengers have the best possible experience when flying, and we’re certain that lighting plays a big part in that, even if it is subconsciously. We are looking into how to improve the experience from the very second passengers enter the plane and how to use lighting to reduce the stress of air travel.

What are some of the challenges with aircraft lighting?
One of the biggest difficulties in the cabin is accommodating the many different activities that passengers could be doing, from sleeping to reading to watching their pre-loaded content on their mobile devices. We need a light that works for all of the above tasks and more. Our patented reading light has a highly uniform light output that not only reduces glare and improves the onboard reading environment, but also minimizes light spill onto neighboring passengers, helping to make having forty winks a little easier.

What opportunities are there for aircraft lighting in the future?
While our appetite for data continues to grow, I think airlines and passengers alike will soon start to benefit from Li-Fi. For passengers, improved data streams will enable them to fully submerge themselves into their digital worlds, while for airlines, it eliminates complex wiring to in-flight entertainment systems and offers a number of environmental benefits.

“APEX in Profile: Lauren Fleming” was originally published in the 8.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.