#11 Chroma & Carbonshade Merging, New Products, and Future Plans

Hello Friends,

If you have been re-directed here from carbonshade.com or getchroma.co, it is because Shopify has been freezing our accounts and creating a poor customer experience so we will be switching to a more sovereign e-commerce platform that we can control (eventually).

In the meantime, the stores will stay closed (though if you have an existing order, we will get those taken care of).

In the meantime, feel free to look for the newsletter archives to find out more about sunlight, health, circadian rhythms and so on.

Best,

Michael (Founder of Carbonshade and Chroma)

P.S. If you want the store re-opened faster, share these posts with people who might subscribe so I know there is interest in the products we built!

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Brief history of Carbonshade & Chroma

Carbonshade was my original foray into “biohacking” when I started building it late 2015 and then launched it on Kickstarter early 2016. Our key innovation was the use of dark red lenses that previously did not exist outside of laser safety glasses due to the enhanced aesthetics of the color red over the color orange, despite the fact that a dark orange with the right transmission spectrum (e.g. the one Uvex offers) is about as effective. Since building out the initial product, Carbonshade has almost always been at most a side project for me due to a combination of the small market, and it not making sense for me to figure out the Facebook/Instagram ads game, especially since I was focused on a startup developing a new manufacturing process for very lightweight aerospace parts, which is a massive market.

In 2019, after I had left this aerospace startup and was on a bit of a sabbatical (mountain biking and rock climbing while living out of a van), a friend reached out about working on Carbonshade to grow the brand, and I agreed to work with him on it, along with a mutual acquaintance. I had already been working on various personal visible lighting systems for years at that point, and had also built myself a personal near-infrared device, but it was around that time I realized other people were also interested in these systems that were rather complimentary to the glasses at Carbonshade (glasses eliminate the harmful artificial light from our electronics, whereas additive lighting systems can restore components of sunlight that we are missing by living indoors throughout the day).

Alas, our visions for Carbonshade differed. Where I was more ambitious and wanted to build a variety of products related to lighting to include alongside the glasses, they wanted to take a more tepid approach. So we ended up going different ways and I started working on Chroma to build all the new products I envisioned, and customers loved them. Unfortunately, with startups, it is often easier to overshoot and miss, rather than having a small goal that does not leave room for error, and predictably, both of the guys that were working on Carbonshade abandoned the project, which has led to some unfortunate service disruptions. Seeing that Carbonshade was basically in stasis and orders were barely being fulfilled, I acquired 100% of the shares so that I could re-integrate the two diverging brands. [For anyone who has an order pending now, please note that we specified on the website that these are backorders and both Chroma & Carbonshade orders will be shipping early September (except for Ironforge and D-Light).]

For Carbonshade customers, here is a quick rundown of the (mostly LED) products we developed with Chroma.

  1. Sky Portal: A bright sky blue light to be used at a desk. This is sort of an exact opposite of the Carbonshade glasses. Importantly, 480nm cyan blue LEDs are used rather than 440 nm dark blue LEDs that are the cause of health concerns. Cyan light has extremely high melanopic lux, which means the stimulatory effect is equivalent to that of a much brighter white light (almost all white LEDs are also loaded with this sub-450nm harsh, dark blue, and they have a dip in the cyan range exactly where you want light, which is known in the LED industry as the cyan gap!). Each Sky Portal comes with a 2nd LED channel that can be either near-infrared, or a very high fidelity, violet phosphor pump white LED that we custom tuned to further fill in the cyan gap. Read more: #8 The Complete Solution to Human Health in the Modern World

  2. Chroma Nightshades: A variation of the original Carbonshade glasses that lets in a bit of violet light, making it easier to navigate your environment at night, as well as making it easier to see colors in mobile apps or watch movies without everything being monochrome. These aren’t a replacement for Carbonshades since even though they work well, they don’t get you that 99.8% absorption of light in the melanopic range. Read more

  3. Ironforge/Redforge: A compact, very high power, hand-held near-infrared or deep red light. I built this originally to accelerate healing of a pulley injury in my finger from rock climbing. This stuff has been extensively studied and has been shown to be effective for a wide variety of applications including pain, bone density, injury healing time, neurodegenerative diseases, mental health, skin appearance, balding, etc. Other products in this space are built almost exclusively by non-engineers who have trouble understanding something as simple as the power consumption of a device in watts and the efficiency of a system, which is something a 10-year-old, or a bright 6-year-old should have no problem understanding. A small, power dense device can be used like a large device, but the reverse is not true. Read more: #9 How does high power density red light therapy work? or #6 The Truth about Joovv Red Light Therapy.

  4. Near-IR flashlight: A low power, battery-powered near-infrared device with more power than “lasers” sold for 3-20x the price.

  5. D-Light: the first ever consumer product with UVB LEDs, which is the portion of the UV spectrum that leads to vitamin D synthesis.

…and the Carbonshade glasses: a non-high-gamut version of the Nightshades that blocks more light with a dark red instead of a pinkish lens.

Ironforge 2.0 and D-Light 2.0

We streamlined the Ironforge/Redforge series with a single product that is 80% 850nm near-infrared and 20% 670nm deep red. This enables the focus on deep tissue, while still offering the skin benefits of deep red in a single device. Additionally, instead of having multiple power levels, we put as much power as is practical into a single device (works out to a bit more than the white series since we are not doing as much undervolting as in the black series, which requires a ridiculous number of diodes, driving up production costs). While every other brand has been raising prices due to the massive 30% inflation in the past year, we decided to slash prices instead with the hopes that this will lead to more word-of-mouth sales since we don’t run ads.

A good way to use the Ironforge if you want more power is to get 5 or 20 of them and zip tie them to a vertical poll or wooden frame. With 12 units, you match the power of a Novothor at less than a tenth of the price. According to one of our customers, Jeff Bezos has a Novothor in every home he owns. So get yourself 13, and you’ll have a higher power system than what a centibillionaire owns. If you are reading this, there exists a dimension by which your wealth exceeds that of most billionaires who clearly neglect their health as is readily apparent at a glance (Bill Gates comes to mind).

Get Ironforge

With the D-Light, we finally found a supplier for the ideal wavelength of UVB (297-298 nm peak), as opposed to the previous LED we used at 290 nm. These narrowband wavelengths have been shown to lead to more vitamin D synthesis per DNA damage. We discontinued the original version after I noticed some hyperpigmentation in my skin after using it and all customers of that product were advised and given the option to return the device. The hyperpigmentation spots might have also been due to the UVA, which was included at a lower ratio than what would be found in sunlight, and the new version will have only about half as much UVA since this is not critical to vitamin D synthesis. UVA leads to nitric oxide synthesis, but near-infrared light does that as well so this seems less critical. Since UV is absorbed without penetrating very deeply, we are shifting the wavelengths used alongside the UV to include more visible light, along with some shorter wavelength near-IR (mix of 630, 670, 780, and 850). The goal of including these lights is to reduce the damage that the UV causes since it is ionizing radiation. …lots of research backing this up. Too much to list here so scroll to bottom.

Eventually, we would like to validate the superiority of this device from a safety perspective to fluorescent, broad spectrum 311 nm lamps such as those used in the Sperti lamp as well as the superiority of this device to sunlight itself. This could be observed by the levels of cyclobutan pyrimidine dimers with respect to vitamin D level elevation since this is a fairly good measure of DNA damage. Some other ways to reduce the damage of UV is simply being outside all day instead of merely solar noon since there is more red and near-IR light in the morning and later in the afternoon — or you can use the Ironforge every morning before you head out into the sunlight.

We only have a single D-Light product now, whereas previously there were two power levels. The current version has about 70% more UVB power than the higher power original version, yet the price is only around 40% of the original. We can’t bring the price all the way down to the same levels of the Ironforge since UVB LEDs are actually insanely expensive — more than an order of magnitude higher cost per diode, along with more than an order of magnitude lower radiant efficiency — this likely why you have never seen a consumer device with them (as an aside, this is also why far-UVC is not a feasible solution for preventing transmission of respiratory diseases… the economics are even worse at those wavelengths).

Get D-Light

Future plans for Carbonshade and Chroma

If you want a product from either store, I’d suggest getting them sooner rather than later, especially for the Ironforge and D-Light — we are switching to a batch model of production so we are not sitting on inventory, which is fairly costly. The batch model enables us to lower our prices, and you might notice we have been gradually lowering the prices on the Sky Portals as well. We will stop taking order for the next batch of Ironforges and D-Lights in the next couple weeks so that we do not delay beginning production, and we will not immmediately open a new batch.

Instead, we will be re-building the storefront to combine Chroma and Carbonshade into a website where we will only accept payments in bitcoin, which will eliminate the fees from the legacy financial infrastructure, allowing us to pass those savings onto you. I appreciate all my customers, so I would like to show my gratitude by sharing with you a glimpse of what the world will look like in the coming years. In the coming months, if you want to purchase a product from us, you will only be able to do so with bitcoin — in the years to come, if you want to buy anything from anyone, you will only be able to use bitcoin. You will find that merchants do not wish to receive a money that is easily counterfeit by governments and private banks that are able to inflate the supply of money and make the dollar worthless. Bitcoin is the only thing that can preserve its value long term since the supply is capped.

The problems that exist in the health system, where we are coercively scammed into insurance products only to receive services from entities among which there is a near total absence of competitive forces driving improvements, is entirely rooted in the problems with the money. I might elaborate on this point further in this newsletter, but for now, simply understand that Bitcoin fixes this. There is nothing unfathomably hard about any of the products I have built. LEDs are not rocket science. Not even close. The problems relate to incentives and psychology and in a sound world, the products of Carbonshade and Chroma would be so obvious everyone would use them, there would be significant competition, and the prices would be lower. So I will aspriationally lower the prices in anticipation of the world to come over time, a deflationary world. Until the new website is setup, anyone who wants to buy in bitcoin can message me directly and get a bit of a discount.

Carbonshade

Chroma

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Citations

(all the notes/links I have under UV in Roam, sorry it’s a bit messy)

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