Blue Light Special For Tired Truckers

A new LED device may help keep drivers awake during long hauls

Blue LEDs: better than coffee?

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Bye-bye, NoDoz. New Scientist reports today that researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are developing a new technology designed to help truckers stay alert through all-night hauls. Instead of popping stimulants, drivers may soon rely on special LED lights to reset the body's internal clock.

The lights, which cast an eerie blue glow and emit light spectra of 450 and 470 nanometers, could potentially be installed in truck cabs, or delivered in "light showers" at truck stops along major shipping routes. Another alternative would be to build the lights into goggles, which the drivers could wear for a set period of time before taking off.

Mariana Figueiro, author of the paper published by Rensselaer Polytechnic, has already tested the goggle device on Alzheimer's patients with impaired circadian rhythms. "After 45 minutes there is a clear effect," Figueiro told_ New Scientist_. "You start to see a beautiful increase in brain activity in the 300 milliseconds response, which is a measure of alertness."