Lighting Systems that “Think" So You Don’t Have To

Long lifespan is one of the main selling points for LED bulbs, but it could also be their downfall. As market penetration rate rises and more people are willing to adopt LEDs, the market will become saturated. With such a long lifespan, there will be less need to buy new bulbs and manufacturers will lose business. Manufacturers are now starting to turn towards smart lighting to keep consumers coming back. 

Professor Robert Karlicek Jr., director of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, discussed the need for a sustainable market for LED lighting during the Solid State Lighting Forum at Taiwan International Lighting Show(TILS) 2014. Karlicek believes that smart lighting is the future direction for manufacturers. 

Professor Robert Karlicek Jr (photo courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Smart lighting is not a new concept. Manufacturers such as Philips Lighting, GE, and other lesser known kickstarter companies have developed color tunable smart lighting coupled with smart phone applications. However in the future, smart lighting will evolve to another stage which the industry will be seeing more control and communication features.  

Control systems are already smart, but are not smart enough and still have room to develop, said Karlicek. Manufacturers are looking into creating smart lighting that is able to work on its own and be self-sufficient without the need for any upkeep or recalibration. Karlicek brought up the concept of “google-ized” light as a possible future concept for smart lighting. “Whenever you type two words into google, usually google can finish your sentence and know what you what. What if lighting was the same. What if after two steps into a room, the lighting was able to determine your lighting needs and automatically adjust,” said Karlicek. 

Li-fi, wireless connection through visible light, is another area of smart lighting which is anticipated to expand in the future. Lighting systems will be able to transmit all the data that you need for apps and will no longer just be for illumination. Karlicek believes that this will be one of the fastest growing sectors for smart lighting, though it is still in the beginning stages of development.

There is also development for illumination based “radar”, called time of flight where  lights are able to detect movement in the room and sense whether the occupants of the room are walking, standing, or sitting. This information is use to determine each individual’s lighting needs and adjust accordingly. This technology is still in the development and testing phase and will not be on the market for some time, said Karlicek. 

Smart lighting in health care is one of the sectors that is gaining the most speed and is anticipate to be adopted the earliest compared to other forms. This is due to research conducted on the effects of light and color on human physiology.  However, there is no adequate lighting meter used today for light based on circadian rhythm. Not enough is known and more research needs to be conducted. 

As LEDs overtake other forms of energy efficient lighting and become more commonplace, it is becoming increasing clear that new capabilities and functions are needs to keep the market sustainable. “The key will be the development of lighting systems that can think, provide exactly the right light where and when it is needed,” said Karlicek. 

 

(Author:  Leah Allen, Editor/Translator, LEDinside)

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