The smart lighting revolution
It all began with the introduction of led fixtures, which encompass technology, intelligence and illumination
Modern homes, offices and commercial spaces are constantly evolving. Lighting today is a matter of interior design, illumination, productivity, environment and pricing. Since a few years, there has been a successful transition to LEDs and the light ambience is ranging from warm to cool, from ideal working light to atmospheric candlelight. Smart lighting solutions are the future and the trend is towards adjusting colour and brightness.
THE FUTURE OF LIGHTING
Rajesh Mehra, director & promoter, Jaquar Group, believes that smart and sustainable lighting fixtures are increasingly becoming the most adopted and widely requested among the latest trends for both home and commercial purposes. “We’re living in the age of smart lighting, which plays a crucial role in lighting up homes. With various applications and features to control, even remotely, the transition towards a smart home upgrade is higher now than ever,” says Mehra.
Over time, the layouts and features of an urban home have evolved. Consumers are becoming conscious about design and sustainability. As Mehra adds, “Lighting fixtures play an important role in the transformation of the design and feel of homes and commercial spaces. A light, for example, is not just a light, but also a piece of art. Almost every fixture has a role to play in influencing the end result of the aesthetic layout with the added function of providing a sensory experience.”
Another evolving trend is the inclination toward ensuring that the source of the light remains invisible, offering up a naturally warm light to the space the fixture is being used for. Hidden lights are also a creative element that is being applied where the designer/ consumer wants to create a visual effect and/ or avoid harsh lighting.
Shalini Joshi, assistant product manager – Lighting, Häfele, states that lighting has always been an important and integral part of any architecture or design. Lighting today is not just restricted to its functional benefit of providing a level of illumination. The trend is more towards selecting the right lighting for a particular space keeping in view the purpose of illumination. She says, “Innovations in LED technology are focusing more and more on human beings and their increased interaction with lights. Linear lighting with asymmetric designs illuminates spaces uniformly for utmost comfort. The sleek linear lighting in trend not only accentuates spaces, but also adds to functionality. Some factors such as hassle free installation, more and more relaxed light environment around, choice of light control, integration with other devices and applications, are considered while selecting LED lights.”
Lights add elegance with their innovative accessories and variations, states Jayanth Jain, MD & CEO, GM Modular.
On the other hand, Bishan Jain, director, Goldmedal Electricals, feels that with LEDs becoming more mainstream, the prices should fall and we should witness a rise in demand. “In the near future we can also expect smart lights to evolve and be more intelligent and accessible with features like mood settings; colour, temperature and dimming control,” he adds.
Gurumukh Uttamchandani, executive director, Syska Group, feels that leading brands are paving the way with smart LED bulbs and switches that offer Wi-Fi connectivity and provide app, button and voice controls over brightness, warmth and colour of both individual and connected bulbs. He explains, “The major technology behind smart connected homes is IoT (Internet of Things) and according to Strategy Analytics, IoT growth is higher than ever; however, annual growth will begin to tail off as the market normalises in the near future.”
Signify Innovations India (previously known as Philips Lighting India) is positioning themselves as the lighting company for the Internet of Things. Sumit Joshi, CEO, Signify Innovations India, feels, “As the world around us becomes more connected, we have observed that lighting is also transforming towards a digitally connected future, leading to the emergence of new trends like connected street lighting that helps cities become more safe, energy efficient and liveable for its citizens. Connected LED streetlights not only provide highly energy efficient and quality light, but they can also act as sensor nodes on an information highway. They can collect and distribute data and improve city services such as light, traffic, air quality, public safety, parking and other location-based services, leveraging state-of-the-art communication technologies.”
Another upcoming trend is human-centric lighting. With adults spending a major part of their day indoors, lighting can have a significant impact on their well-being. By tuning the light to support the human body’s circadian rhythms and emotional needs, we can promote human comfort, wellbeing and performance. This can have multiple applications in the modern world; for example, in industrial environments, light levels can be adjusted to levels that help reduce fatigue and errors amongst factory workers. In offices, it can enable desk workers to personalise their light settings to suit their needs, helping create a more inclusive and personalised workplace.
The Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) technology is another trend, in which high quality LED lighting provides a stable and fast broadband Internet connection through light waves. Unlike other forms of wireless communications (e.g. Wi-Fi, 4G/ 5G, Bluetooth, etc.) that use radio waves, Li-Fi uses the broader and unused spectrum of light waves to transmit and receive data wirelessly and offers a bandwidth that is more than 1,000 times the size of the radio spectrum. Satisfying all the requirements of this digital day and age, Li-Fi is a perfect fit for financial institutions, government and public offices that demand a highly secure and fast internet connection.
Besides this, 3D printed luminaires will be a major trend in the coming decade. Being able to 3D-print a luminaire on-demand helps reduce the time taken for development, production, delivery and installation of luminaires significantly. Moreover, it offers customers the flexibility to choose designs with more complex shapes and colours, and promotes the circular economy as well, as old luminaires can be recycled and re-used for producing new ones.
Lighting products inspired by nature will be another major trend we will witness in the coming decade. These lighting products mimic nature’s design of light distribution and colour temperature to offer maximum comfort to humans. Joshi informs, “We recently introduced the Philips EyePro range of LED bulbs in the Indian market. This range has been designed with patented Interlaced Optics technology to enhance eye comfort. Its design, inspired by the pattern of sunflower seeds, diffuses and reflects light so as to reduce glare – the excessive brightness caused by an intense light beaming from the centre of the bulb – by up to 35%, and also ensures no visible flicker.”
Dinesh Aggarwal, joint managing director, Panasonic Life Solutions India, predicts that Connected Lighting - Connected Lighting Systems (CLS) will dominate. “This system comprises an emerging class of lighting infrastructure that is used beyond light spaces. By incorporating distributed intelligence, network interfaces, and sensors, connected lighting systems are more like data collection platforms that enable a widespread range of valuable new capabilities as well as greater energy savings in residential buildings and cities,” he adds.
LIGHTS AND COLOURS – EFFECT ON MOOD
Colour psychology and its utilisation in our environment can enhance our emotions and our state of mind. The right colour of light can help bring out the best in furnishing, wall colour, and the overall décor, giving the space a unique personality. And to make this happen, smart lighting technology comes into play at home and at work. Uttamchandani explains, “Personalisation has been a huge roadblock when it comes to lighting and home décor, and people have been hesitant about changing their lifestyle for home renovations. Currently, smart lighting is commercialised as a lifestyle commodity, however, it will soon be incorporated in all types of LED lighting applications.”
Colours are used to elicit a specific feeling. Sumit Joshi states that colour subconsciously affects our everyday life. It is used strategically in retail, restaurants, schools and hospitals, to prompt a specific feeling in people. Each colour has a separate feeling associated with it, affecting our mood in everyday situations. Joshi explains, “Nowadays, coloured lighting is being used to enhance sleep patterns, cure jetlag, promote healing, or generate mental activity in the classroom. While human-centric lighting is still at a nascent level, there are growing commercial and residential adoptions across the world.”
A lot of different industries can benefit from tuneable human-centric lighting. Personalised hotel room lighting can help guests adjust to a new time zone and overcome jetlag. Industrial light levels can be tuned to reduce fatigue, errors, and the health impact of shift work. Another example is health- and aged-care facilities, where lighting simulates daylight rhythms to help patients and residents sleep better, recover faster and feel happier.
Office workers can personalise light settings to suit their own vision, helping to create a more inclusive and comfortable workplace. Some organisations are already testing this to see if they can get a competitive advantage using such human-centric lighting. As awareness and evidence around the benefits of this kind of lighting grows in the future, we will see a growing demand for it in both homes and offices.
HEALTHY LIGHTING, MOODS AND PRODUCTIVITY
The ways in which colours influence our psychological health goes back many decades. We have long understood that light determines our sleep cycle, relaxation, and mental stimulation. Lighting also plays a vital role in improving our energy, mood, alertness, and productivity.
Mehra explains, “The right kind of lighting can not only prove beneficial for a person’s health, but also support positive attitude and productivity. The importance of chromotherapy is certainly a trend followed by premium homes and offices. However, it is a relatively new space in consumer tech. However, it is highly efficient and increasingly recommended. Jaquar Lighting smart products such as the Vivid Smart LED bulb offer a myriad of colour options that help support our daily activities and productivity.”
Shalini Joshi of Häfele adds that lighting is classified as such – besides ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. “Basis the classification, the selection of lighting systems is done nowadays. The Loox lighting system brings you choice to control the intensity of light, dimming or even changing the colour temperature, at utmost ease. Offices and home interiors demand different light settings during different times of the day, and hence the flexibility and modularity of lights becomes critical. Light systems with such customisable features hence become the choice of the market.”
GM Modular’s Jain explains that research suggests that lights and colours can influence our moods and energies. With the right kind of lighting in the workplace, one can achieve better results, increasing productivity and quality. “At home, using the power of dimming and fading, one can create an appropriate soothing atmosphere to relax and revive. Lighting also impacts the interiors and is indeed one of the important aspects of design and aesthetics. It accentuates the art of the spaces and sets a sophisticated vibe,” adds Jain. Therefore, with the available variation in lighting solutions, one can not only change the ambience from warm to cool at offices, homes, factories and more, but can also create and channel energies in the direction of productivity and positivity.
Bishan Jain feels that despite the accessibility of LEDs in different colours and tones, people continue to use lights like the incandescent lights that are unsuitable for home and offices. “This could be due to the lack of awareness among people about the various kinds of LEDs and the effect the right kind of light tones can have on our mood, productivity and overall wellbeing.”
According to recent studies, lighting has a deep impact on one’s life. Due to alternation in today’s lifestyle, modern consumers spend 90% of the time staying indoors and thus, the exposure to sunlight is relatively less. Dinesh Aggarwal explains, “Lighting can have a vital impact on one’s concentration and productivity, especially those who are working professionals. The artificial light installed in an indoor environment, say offices, homes, etc., can have an everlasting effect on one’s body and causes issues with sleep at large. It can also impact efficiency due to lack of exposure to the sun.”
For this, lighting such as Human Centric Lighting enhances human performance, comfort, health, and well-being, by balancing visual, emotional, and biological benefits of lighting for humans. Lighting systems that give higher light power and colour temperature at the right time can help improve sleep duration and quality. These lights should be implemented across various sectors to ensure the comfort, safety and enhance the work performance of people at the maximum possible rate. These lighting can be implemented in educational institutes, hospitals (operation and intensive care rooms), residential buildings, and corporate offices. With the newer range of lights available in varied colour options, there are also energy-efficient lights which are advanced and easy to control with automated control systems.
With digital control, the chances of ensuring longevity and better efficiency are higher. Digital technology enhances the upscale aspect, while adding smart communication and technology to the daily workings of electronics at your home. A host of technologies comes into play once lighting fixtures are digitally compatible. It allows for real-time control and reporting on installed lights. Mehra explains, “For example, the Jaquar Lighting Vivid Smart LED Bulb is equipped with numerous features that not only enhance the lighting quality and capacity in the room, but also add the necessary decorative element. Some of the key features are that it can be operated via a Wi-Fi connection, is supported by the Bluetooth Mesh Technology (single app control that can extend up to 200 devices), and offers 16 million colours, including various shades of white light. Users can also control different lights from different rooms.”
Shalini Joshi explains that the concept of controlling the lighting digitally from a remote location is growing and the customer wants to be a part of this growing technology. The affiliation is not just a functionality benefit, but also acts as a wow factor for them. “Taking advantage of this flexibility, Häfele has used its experience as the pioneer of furniture lighting and designed a holistic solution for your residences or businesses through its Häfele Connect concept,” she adds. Häfele Connect is the name of the key to smart, networked furniture and rooms. The Häfele Connect app connects itself to the Connect BLE boxes via Bluetooth. It provides a comprehensive range of control options, including control of the light colour with RGB lights or adjustment of the colour temperature with multi white lights. Different lights can be grouped together, allowing many scenarios to be stored and time-controlled or called up with a simple finger press.
Glitz Air, a smart lighting solution by GM Modular, uses Bluetooth to connect smartphones to the bulb, and controls lighting via an app. Jain explains, “With the smart bulb, you can customise colour to set the desired ambience and create up to 1.6 million colours from any distance. The Bluetooth bulb also changes colours with the changing beats of your music to create an enjoyable atmosphere.”
The digital controls are a perfect example of how technology is beating technology. It has not only garnered the attention of gadget lovers, but has also got praises from not-so-technology-savvy users. In fact, easy usability and accessibility is the USP of the digital product.
Uttamchandani says, “Apart from being extremely energy efficient and durable, Smart LEDs have become convenient to use, thereby adding oomph to the overall home décor. With the help of smart LED bulbs, a living room can be converted into a party zone with the option of choosing from 16 million colours using a single smart LED bulb. A smart table lamp can easily be converted into a study area by increasing the brightness. One can set the appropriate brightness and colour in accordance with the mood and décor. Similarly, smart panel lights and strip lights add to the options in this portfolio of smart lights. Smart Wi-Fi plugs from Syska are also enabling consumers to convert their existing appliances into semi-smart devices.”
Aggarwal is of the opinion that, in the coming years, there will be more OEM integrating sensors in luminaires to create smart luminaires that can be an integral part of a connected lighting system.
Lighting helps improve the mental health and productivity of employees in workspaces, while it can help one relax and revive at home. The lighting market will only continue to energise and brighten up spaces in 2020. With LED lighting being the future, we can be assured of an energy-friendly focus along with superior light emissions and aesthetic qualities.