Aletheia 3: Revealing Our Technology and Product Roadmap

from the Fountain Portal

About: Cold exposure, heat exposure, and biological effects of the three major components of sunlight (UV, Visible, and Near-Infrared). Core content: we look at 300+ new research studies and summarize the most interesting ones weekly. Healthy is normal. Buildings are not. Trying to improve human-modernity system integration.

For a collapsible, interlinked version, you can read this newsletter in Roam Research.

Special New Decade Edition: We are going to share every single major near-infrared and sunlight simulation system we plan develop in the coming years! But first, the usual research roundup:

Circadian Rhythms, Melatonin, Bright Light, and Sleep Research

Sleep as a default state of cortical and subcortical networks

Being asleep is the default state, which is interrupted on a daily basis to be awake, not the other way around. Possible implications? -- a failure to properly signal wakefulness might be more damaging than a failure to properly signal sleepiness since the latter sort of occurs on its own. Of course, no reason not to do both.

Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy: A word of caution.

There is tons of research showing pervasive vitamin D deficiencies along with the safety of vitamin D. Now we have a study showing supplementation may pose some risks. It's hard to prove that something is safe with a finite amount of data. Some things have no other option and pose huge well-known downsides if we do not use them, but vitamin D is not one of those. We can easily get it directly from the sun.

Moreover, my view on things like melatonin and vitamin D is it's hard to know if all the benefits are due only to that one thing, or if it also has something to do with the 99 other factors you get in parallel from the natural source that you might not have been looking at.

Miniaturized, light-adaptive, wireless dosimeters autonomously monitor exposure to electromagnetic radiation

Some people wrote about building sensors that track light input. What gets measured gets managed or so goes the cliche. My take on the whole quantified-self movement is that they could really benefit from some new tools and products that actually make a major difference. Otherwise, you end up trying to find patterns/signals where there are none, or the effect size is negligible. If you don't give people shiny things to measure that actually work, they'll do silly things like use dosimeters to measure UV and tell people to get less sunlight... this kills the human

Bright light exposure augments cognitive behavioral therapy for panic and posttraumatic stress disorders: a pilot randomized control trial AND Blunted Nocturnal Salivary Melatonin Secretion Profiles in Military-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

One study finds bright light therapy helps alleviate symptoms of PTSD. Another study finds that PTSD has the effect of lower melatonin levels. Hard to imagine there's not a connection there.

Melatonin regulates breast cancer progression by thelnc010561/miR-30/FKBP3 axis

We've known for a while that low melatonin is tied to increased rates of breast cancer. It has even been shown epidimiologically that extreme latitudes have higher rates. Seems like we now have more of the underlying biochemistry explaining it, but I have no idea what those last ~25 characters in the title mean so I won't even try to explain it.

Constant light exposure terminates pregnancy in rats with pineal gland dysfunction, low melatonin level and pro-inflammatory response

If you take artificial light to exposure to extremes, it causes so much inflammation that it terminates pregnancy in rats. Dying of cancer is even worse, but because it is not a discrete event that happens immediately, the connection to light exposure goes ignored.

Photobiomodulation Research

Does photobiomodulation change the synthesis and secretion of angiogenic proteins by different pulp cell lineages

Deep red light (660 nm) stimulated an increase in VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). This drives growth of new blood vessels and capillaries. After I looked into high volume low intensity training, which has been determined as the only way to drive long term progress in advanced athletes, my impression was that VEGF-driven adaptations played a key role (Capacity vs Utilization Training). There was also a study that showed VEGF deprivation accelerates cancer growth.

Enhanced mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP synthesis by photobiomodulation increases viability of the auditory cell line after gentamicin-induced intrinsic apoptosis

808 nm near infared light shown to help treat hearing loss. The list of things light exposure helps with seems to be growing without end. At some point the paradigm of light being called medicine starts to sound absurd. Imagine this: scientists want to test the effects of a novel health treatment they call 'bullet-removal'. They shoot patients in the foot, and remove the bullet. They shoot patients in the shoulder, and remove the bullet. They should patients in the gut, and in this case some of the patients die, but the ones with the bullet-removable-therapy were less likely to die.

This entire time no one bothers to ask whether the patients might be better off if you didn't shoot them in the first place. But this might as well be what modern buildings do to us, trapping us indoors away from the sunlight (which contains a fair bit of near infrared light among other things). So of course its absence will lead to innumerable processes in the body going haywire. It's worthwhile recognizing the origins and order of things when we can.

Could heat therapy be an effective treatment for alzheimer’s and parkinson’s diseases? A narrative review

Products, Patents, and other News

There are numerous light therapy products available today, but none of them are particularly novel. They are mostly re-purposed products with minimal changes. Near-infrared panels are just greenhouse lights with a particular set of LEDs. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lights are usually just slightly harmful and less effective standard short-wavelength blue light fixtures sitting on a desk. The reason there are no engineered devices is the people building them do not understand their true purpose.

I propose that we must first define the purpose: I suggest that we think of what is needed as Chromatic Portals [tm]. A Chromatic Portal must be able to deliver light in a way that seamlessly integrates into dwellings and they way we live and work in them. We are at 0% UV, 0% near-infrared, and about 1% visible light indoors. Let’s hit >50%

Product 1: Iron Fist [tm]

Here is an early alpha prototype I built before starting to work on the Iron Fist (about as much near-infrared as a typical “1000 watt” in a package >20 times more compact. If you want low intensity near-infrared on your whole body all at once, why not go outside. An hour of summer sunlight gets you far more than a “1500 watt” near-infrared full body panel. :)

The Iron Fist is the first US-designed purpose-built high power near-infrared device that is built for consumers rather than costing tens of thousands of dollars. After running the numbers, the benefit of anything other than an insanely expensive full body bed (I've seen prices up to $140,000) didn't excite me so I started building my own systems a year ago. I'm now in the process of finalizing my latest prototype system that can be built at scale. As long as I'm happy with the prototype, there will likely be a pre-order launch for that in a couple months or so.

I will be writing an in-depth exposé of the current near-infrared consumer market over the coming weeks. I will also write a detailed white-paper on the design and thinking behind the Iron Fist.

Near-infrared panels exposé (teaser summary):

  • Repurposed/rebranded light fixtures from greenhouses (companies like Joovv don’t have engineers or know how to build anything so they just patent troll with junk patent applications e.g. ~“hanging a near-infrared panel on a wall”)

  • This leads to poor durability, hence the typical 2 year warranties.

  • Actual power wayyy less than stated, from ALL suppliers. Irradiance numbers also don't add up (again, no engineers).

Iron Fist whitepaper (teaser summary)

  • A device about the size and shape of a large brick.

  • 5+ year warranty and built like a tank.

  • Large and passive aluminum cooling block. Unlike fans, this eliminates noise and increases reliability.

  • Ultra-strong acrylic face sheet held on with fat titanium bolts.

  • Under-driven LEDs for extreme longevity (decades).

  • >10x power per area of any panel light.

  • Delivering something beyond what you can get from a sunny day or a warm fire.

  • Pricing most likely in the $1-1.5k range (An order of magnitude lower than the closest form factor devices that have an order of magnitude lower power).

Product 2: Cerebro [tm] / Halo [tm]

This is by far the least thought out product. All I have now is a bunch of near-IR lights mounted on a hard hat. There were a bunch of people with Parkinson's doing DIY versions of near-IR helmets that had maybe a tenth of the power of this thing. If it's pulsed at 40 khz it might be a potent treatment for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

For now, I'm just interested in the potential for cognitive enhancement and sleep improvements. Hard to describe the feeling of running it at a full power for more than 60 seconds... but let's just say I've now decided 25% power is where I feel comfortable with it. I've been using this thing most days for about 30 minutes on average.

For now, I'm just interested in the potential for cognitive enhancement and sleep improvements. Hard to describe the feeling of running it at a full power for more than 60 seconds... but let's just say I've now decided 25% power is where I feel comfortable with it. I've been using this thing most days for about 30 minutes on average.

This prototype might be the most powerful device of its kind ever built based on the only similar one I found having 15% nominal power. It is >10x the power of hats marketed for hair regrowth or cognitive benefits, and ~20-30x near-IR masks for skin/beauty.

Product 3: The Portal [tm]

The Portal is meant to solve the visible light problem of living indoors where the intensity of light received is 2 orders of magnitude less than what is found outside. Seasonal effective disorder or winter depression is the typical application of so-called bright light therapy, but this light will not be built to treat that. Instead it will merely help remove the artificial effects that buildings have on people to improve the wellness of all humans. As an entirely new form of lighting, the Portal is quite different from any existing light on the market today. A summary of the in-depth blog posts I'll write about this are provided below.

Current lights are a joke, as in, they're so bad they are mocked. Such mockery was found in season 2 of Netflix's The Punisher as well as the latest season of HBO's Silicon Valley. While this may be disrespectful to people suffering from depression, my biggest concern is the element of truth that all these devices such. Health has become a status symbol in modern society, and since illumination is central to beauty, a proper device should elicit pride. We managed to come down from trees and make ourselves nice little tall huts in our modern cities. But now is not yet the time to pat ourselves on the back.

Why current lights are terrible (blog post teaser summary)

  • Awful spectrum, some even use fluorescent bulbs.

  • Use ill-defined "10,000 lux" metric, and deliberately mislead people about dosage with a small asterisk that mentions distance

  • Require people to take time out of their day to use

  • May pose macular degneration risk

  • Companies making them don't take what they're doing seriously.

  • Scattered light can distract people nearby, making them difficult to use around co-workers (I experienced this with the 1st thing I built for myself).

How the Portal fixes this (blog post teaser summary)

  • Monochromatic sky blue LEDs provide peak melanopic response while eliminating high energy short wavelength blue light.

  • Large fresnel lens delivers light as a column (like a spotlight): much higher light intensity possible (still dimmable), and zero light spillover that would both people nearby.

  • Positioned about 1 ft above your monitor and pointed down with a 45 degree angle (adjustable) to seamlessly integrate into a work environment so you can be exposed to light throughout the entire day.

Here I am with a previous iteration at full power: ~100,000 lux without having to be inches away. It’s almost as bright as direct sunlight, but without any UV.

Here is another prototype. Notice how in the center it looks sort of white and how in other areas it is pinkish red? Color does not only not define what wavelengths are generating it (metamerism), but humans are unreliable observers of color even under constant chromaticity. When light is very bright, the brain basically says, screw it, we’re going to call that white. This is also why molten steel at around 1500 C can look white hot, even though if you think about color corrected temperatures of a blackbody (5500K being daylight and 2700K being a rather warm white), you realize its “true color” is deep red.

Timeline & Beta Tester Opportunity: this is a product that will take time to build to my satisfaction so it will not be available this winter.

I am building mini-prototypes for feedback. I originally mentioned on Facebook that I would make these available for one week trials, but there has been a lot of inbound interest. Therefore, if anyone is interested in purchasing one of the 10 trial units I am building please shoot me an email and I can provide last few minor details (michael at Price on prototype units will be only $500 so long as demand is low. I'm not really thrilled about sending people fixtures that are functional, but not beautiful (bubblegum and wire prototypes so to speak) so I do not anticipate offering this again. These will ship in 1-2 weeks as I just received the final component for these.

When the real Portal launches (~1 year out) it will be vastly superior: much larger fresnel lens, color modulation, and bi-functional red light, and a fixture with high-end materials. Remember, my background is aerospace and carbon fiber so I look forward to eventually making a really over-the-top version eventually!

Please share this newsletter so I can get these products to you as soon as possible!