The ‘too brights’

Article By : John Dunn

The progress of technology doesn't always work in our favor.

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame has of late been having old strips republished on line. From the mid-1980s I think, this one came along:

We see a first panel where the character J.J. is driving a taxicab and is saying to her hapless passenger “Look at this clown! Driving with his brights on!”

Back in the mid-1960s when I was living in New Hampshire, I recall it being a very serious and ticketable offense to be driving a car with “dazzling lights.”

In the 1975 movie Saturday Night Fever, we see a 1964 Chevy with its cinematically blinding four-lamp headlight cluster being driven through urban Brooklyn streets with its high-beams on thus signaling to the movie audience that the car was filled with a cadre of useless thugs.

In the modern day, it seems like street lights, parking lot lighting, automobile lights and even traffic lights are considered inadequate unless they are bright enough to make an observer squint and struggle to see through their glare.

We used to see cars with blue-tinged-glare headlights from gas discharge sources of illumination although thankfully I think there are fewer of those around lately.

However, in my perspective (sorry for the pun), the advent of high intensity LEDs, especially white LEDs at 5000°K color temperature (see “Chromaticity in the eye of the beholder“), has worsened the present day difficulty.

Any hopes for a remedy?

This article was originally published on EDN.

John Dunn is an electronics consultant, and a graduate of The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (BSEE) and of New York University (MSEE).


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