February 22, 2016 | Corey Radford |
A few years back I attended a week-long technology conference here in Orlando. As technology conferences go, this one was incredibly intense. If you’ve never been to an “intense” technology conference before, let me paint you a picture.
There are, in general, a lot of pale, low muscle tone, nerdy guys wearing backpacks. There is also an absurd amount of carbohydrates and caffeine being consumed. Conversations from those in attendance typically consist of three topics: online gaming, Star Wars movies, and operating system related banter. All discussion outside of those areas is considered poor form and will get you culled from the herd. Conversations from presenters typically consist mostly of acronyms and sarcastic remarks.
All the nerds sit clumped together in small rooms and frantically peck away at their keyboards pretending to fully comprehend the slide deck. The lighting is not good. The chairs are not comfortable. People sweat a lot.
Get the picture? It was an exhausting experience.
After the first day of the conference, I went home, skipped dinner, and slept hard. A few hours into the second day, I developed a tension headache that would last the entire week. Throughout the conference I struggled with my attention span and my motivation to learn. My eyes hurt and the words on my laptop and on the presenter’s screen were blurry and difficult to read. I fought off sleepiness the entire conference and three hours into each day my energy levels were pitiful. What was going on with me?!
After the conference I did some poking around the Internet and stumbled upon the answer and the answer, for me, was in the form of an computer application.
If you are reading this, you may be interested to know there is an application that may significantly change your life for the better! The name of the application is “f.lux” and it is freely available on the Internet. As it turns out, the symptoms I had experienced at the conference were common amongst those who are heavy daily computer users, but also in about 15% of the population who have a visual processing disability called Irlen Syndrome (more on that a bit later).
F.lux and applications like it, change the color temperature of light from computers and mobile devices so that your brain has an easier time processing the visual information (see graphic below). The change in color temperature from a cold blue-white fluorescent (6500k) to a warmer orange incandescent (4300k) reduces eye strain and alleviates additional processing overhead in the visual parts of the brain. The end result? No more afternoon headaches, improved concentration, improved attention span, easier reading, more energy at the end of the day, and basically an improved quality of life overall.
The reason, interestingly enough, is that our brains are designed to prioritize visual information entering the brain over our other senses. In fact, the amount of visual information entering the brain may be as high as 90%. I also found out that approximately 50% of all neural tissue deals with vision and the majority of that tissue connects the retina to the brain. Further, more neurons are dedicated solely to vision than to the other four senses combined. Taking those facts into consideration, one could see how important our visual environment is to the health and well-being our brain and how any impediments to that environment would dramatically impact our lives. Seriously, give f.lux a try by heading over to https://justgetflux.com, I promise you will feel a difference!
As mentioned earlier, for a percentage of the population who live with Irlen Syndrome, changes in the visual environment can be life altering. Many people struggle their entire lives with reading/learning difficulties, behavioral issues, Dyslexia, and ADHD only to find out that their brains aren’t correctly processing visual information. The changes they experience with proper diagnosis and treatment are as incredible as they are life changing! If you’d like to know more about Irlen Syndrome and it’s related symptoms and treatments, you can visit https://irlen.com for more information.
Finally, and perhaps most intriguing, Apple is rumored to be incorporating a new feature called “Night Shift” in the next version of it’s mobile operating system iOS (v9.3). Night Shift will automatically adjust both the brightness and color temperature of your iPhone/iPad screen when the sun goes down or when the ambient light is lowered. Can’t say for sure, but this feature may trump the flashlight in terms of every day usefulness.