Smart Lighting : Giving new rays to the Smarter Environment

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Smart lighting technology, which enables its users to control lighting through connected devices such as smart phones or remote controls is a big topic in the industry. In this article, the light is shed on different aspects of Intelligent Lighting Technology, to summarize the major findings on latest trends, challenges, directions, opportunities and outlook in the Smart Lighting World. 

There are many technologies on which engineers are working hard to get fruitful results. Technologies like Smart Lighting is among those, which are meant to be the disruptive ones. Technologies like Augmented reality, Virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence are serving as valuable innovations undoubtedly. After smart phones, smart lighting technology is making a huge place in the world.

The current ecological imbalance in the ecosystem has transformed the way business was done traditionally. Today, a large number of companies are adopting a “Green” strategy to support sustainable development across the globe. Furthermore, private and public sectors are joining forces to encourage various smart initiatives worldwide. The market for smart technologies is growing rapidly, and lighting is one of the major prospects in this market. The global smart lighting market had accounted for $ 9.10 Bn in the year 2014, and is expected to cross the milestone of $ 51.50 Bn by the year 2025, growing at the CAGR of 17.1%.

Rapid Growth of Indian Industries in the Smart Lighting Technology

The smart lighting market is highly influenced by the escalating concerns for the well being of the environment. Across the globe, energy conservation is considered one of the most important concerns, and efficient or smart lighting significantly contribute to conserving energy. Europe is the leading region for lighting system technology and human centric lighting. Presently Europe has various lighting associations rigorously working towards the deployment of smart lighting controls in the public and private arenas. Lighting Europe is one of the largest lighting associations in Europe, and has produced 400 scientific papers and conducted 19 events in smart lighting, in the year 2015.

If we talk about India, the lighting industry is on a rapid growth path. The replacement of basic and inefficient incandescent, halogen, fluorescent lamps with modern LED lights will reduce electricity consumption. According to a report by ELCOMA, the lighting industry is expected to reduce energy consumption for lighting from the present 18% of total power consumption to 13% by 2020 by introducing more energy efficient products and working more closely with the government to execute various schemes and awareness programmes.

One of the biggest challenges that the lighting industry had faced was compatibility between control systems and LED fixtures because drivers needed special electronics. Now, with controls directly in the LED, you don’t have that compatibility issue. This is making it easier for homeowners to install smart lighting. Right out of the box, the fixtures can be installed as simple as replacing a bulb. It makes the process seamless.

The growing interest of users in controlling their lights has engendered several communication and lighting controls/technology firms to swap to the budding, smart lighting market. Although LEDs are the most prominent choice for smart lighting systems other traditional light bulbs such as High Intensity Discharge lamps, fluorescent lamps and CFLs can also be utilized in smart lighting. 

Companies like Philips, Samsung, Wipro, LG, Osram and Syska are contributing their best in the Smart Lighting Techniques in India to provide energy efficient lighting system and make the country smarter. Some major products of Smart Lighting in India are Wifi enabled LED Smart Bulbs, Bluetooth Wireless Smart Bulbs, USB Mobile Charger with Smart Bulb table lamp, and many more. Sensors are used in these types of technology, like Daylight Sensing, Occupancy Sensing and Ultrasonic.

Commenting on the Smart Lighting Solutions, Kartik Pareek, Area Sales Manager, from a renowned organisation said, “Different solutions include application controlled automated lighting, remote controlled smart fixtures, lights with smart sensors as well as outdoor smart lighting”.

Systems, Levels of Integration and Intelligence 

The smart lighting systems can either be sensor integrated or non-sensor integrated. Sensor integrated lights are capable of adjusting the luminosity of lights by automatically detecting people and daylight with the help of sensors embedded in this system. Whereas non-sensor integrated lighting systems are still considered as smart as they are programmable. Due to significant development and innovation in wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Li-Fi, etc., majority of upcoming smart lighting systems are expected to be wireless, hence the market for wireless smart systems lighting market is anticipated to grow at the compound annual growth rate of 23%.

Wired smart lighting technology currently has the major share and will continue to dominate the market in the future. Along with the forthcoming advancements in the wireless smart lighting technology, it is predicted to eclipse the wired smart lighting technology market share during the forecast period.

The WSN (Wireless Sensor based Network) are yet to gain popularity worldwide in the commercial as well as corporate infrastructures, as their installation in these facades require huge initial capitalization, although the market for these WSN in smart lighting is predicted to increase owing to advancements in sensor technologies eliminating the complications and glitches in current technology. According to the Insight Partners Analysis,the WSN market is expected to have an approximate market share of 4 billion by the year 2025. The wireless smart lighting market has numerous protocols and lighting networks being deployed by various OEMs as there aren’t any regulatory specifications over this technology.

Presently, majority of communication in smart lighting systems are DALI based. DALI (Digitally addressable lighting Interface) products establishes communication between smart lights and controlling devices such as smart phones, smart watches, tablets, etc. Also DALI supports various smart bulbs and lighting brands that include Osram GmbH, LG electronics and many more, which makes it more flexible and user friendly. ZigBee is another such platform that enables its users to control LED Fixtures, bulbs, remotes and switches. Philips Hue is the most popular smart lighting product supported by ZigBee.

Evolution of the Smart Lighting 

Phillips became a pioneer brand in smart lighting industry by introducing its first LED smart lighting starter, Philips Hue. Later on several other companies also launched smart version of their lighting systems, in order to maintain their market positions. Company’s core strength comprises of its extensive focus upon R&D, supported by strong global brand image that aids the strong foothold of the organization globally. Philips face a tough competition from its other industry mates that are Osram, Syska, LG, Wipro and several startup companies venturing into this market.

Smart Lighting used in the Different Applications 

The smart lighting market is also broadly categorized on the basis of its placements, i.e., indoor and outdoor lighting. The outdoor lighting segment comprises of bikeways, parks, streets and parking lots. In recent years the segment has experienced major transformations resulting in rapid market growth. Here, LEDs are anticipated to capture approximately 85% of the streetlight market during the forecast period, whereas the smart streetlight market is estimated to reach 37% of the entire streetlight market. This development in outdoor lighting is anticipated to generate ample savings in maintenance costs and energy, gaining notable attention from both public and private sectors. The integration of occupancy sensors to the street lights has become a revolutionary innovation as it allows the street lights to operate in low intensity, saving up to 40% energy. The rate of energy conservation is predicted to increase further, considering the rising number of retrofitting initiatives taken by government and private organizations worldwide.

At the same time, the Insight Partners Analysis report says that the indoor smart lighting market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% by the year 2025 driven by the demand to reduce energy consumption of the mounting population, meet the federal and state level regulations related to the environmental impact, and mitigate operational and maintenance costs. With the growing trend in Internet of Things and connected homes the residential indoor smart lighting is expected to gain a lot of popularity. In several developed countries this technology is in high demand coupled with other smart technologies like security cameras and similar home automation solutions.

Commenting on the applications of Smart Lighting Technology, Kartik Pareek said, “These type of lighting are related to smart homes systems and home automation. Major applications in Smart Lighting include dimmers, voice controlled lighting, color changing technology as well as automated ambient lighting”.

Outlook and Future Requirements 

The lighting industry is currently going through a major transformation. As lighting is becoming smart it’s no more just a matter of sockets, switches and bulbs. These smart lighting solutions are now sensor integrated and perform various other activities such as human activity monitoring, balancing the demand and supply fluctuations in power and much more.

The upcoming smart lighting systems are predicted to be equipped with highly robust sensors for both outdoor as well as indoor lighting. The smart street lights would not only behave energy efficiently but also act as a crime detector enabled with gun-shot detectors and camera, air quality analyzer and perform data collection, analysis and offer this information to all the key executives, monitoring the city. Additionally, smart lighting will be making a huge impact on the work environment in companies.

This lighting would optimize the usage of lighting in various corners of the office, such as boardrooms and cabins and also provide the employees with information such as density of people in a particular area of the work place and an ideal or vacant space in the office. In coming years, software developers and IT companies will also become an important part of this industry, generating several new opportunities for the smart lighting market such as the smart lighting technology that is anticipated to have a wide scope of demand in various industrial areas such as healthcare, agriculture, horticulture, media & entertainment and automobiles. There are several companies that have already initiated investment in the R&D in order to understand and develop a better utility for these smart lighting systems, resulting in a high growth perspective in the future.

Why the future of the lighting industry is in smart lighting

More than 150 years ago, inventors created something that increased the length of the average workday. It changed the way we see things, do business, and lead our daily lives. Having impacted several generations of people across the globe, the lightbulb is still evolving, and this evolution has been fuelled by rising energy and cost conservation. For example, the classic incandescent tungsten filament bulb that powered homes for over a century was replaced by compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, to conserve more energy during the 1970s oil crisis. Though CFLs saved the day, they were bulky, did not fit well into fixtures, and had inconsistent performance and a low light output.

CFL slowly started phasing out at the dawn of the new century as people turned towards light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the perfect technological and economical solution for illumination.

According to market research firm Million Insights, the global LED lighting market is expected to value at $108 billion by 2025. Fuelled by technological innovations and inclination towards clean and green energy solutions, LEDs deliver high efficiency and help reduce energy prices. India has fast adopted the technology due to the growing need for electricity conservation and insufficiency in electricity production. As compared to traditional lighting systems, LEDs have a longer life cycle, use 50 percent less electricity, and do not require any maintenance. Also, LEDs use 100 percent of the electrical energy to produce light as compared to incandescent bulbs that convert 80 percent into heat and only 20 percent into light. Hence, making LEDs the preferred choice for both industry and domestic sectors helps to save huge amounts of electricity and cut costs.

On asking about the next disruptive technical development in lighting, Pareek said,  “Google hom and amazon’s Alexa based lighting can be a disruption in smart lighting. Also the next big disruption will be the increase in lumens per watt to somewhere around 200 – 250 lumens in fixtures which will lead to drastic reductions in the electricity consumption”. 

No need to flick a switch

Using a smartphone or a hand-held device, home users can adjust lighting according to occupancy, ambient light, and daylight availability, rather than just flicking a conventional switch, thus optimising energy consumption. Smart LEDs can not only be controlled by smartphones or tablets over WiFi or Bluetooth these days, but the growth of residential IoT has fostered the integration of smart speakers and virtual assistants to control home appliances. Today, Alexa on Amazon Echo, Google Assistant on Google Home, Siri on Apple HomePod, and Cortana on Harman Kardon-Microsoft Invoke can control lighting at home through voice commands.

Soon, the market will also be able to see gesture controls and motion detecting smart lighting technology, which will further decrease human-to-electrical interaction.

Benefits don’t end at ease of use

In Indian modern urban homes, every member of the family has a different aesthetic taste, living requirement, and outlook. Personalisation has become a major challenge when it comes to lighting and home décor, and people are apprehensive about disrupting their lifestyle for home renovations. However, something as simple as domestic lighting can bring a fresh look at home. The right level/quantity of lighting can not only help in completing tasks effectively but also affects the emotional state of mind. The right colour can help bring out the best in home furnishing, wall colour, and the overall décor, giving the living space its own personality. Here’s where smart lighting technology comes into play.

Apart from being extremely energy efficient and durable, Smart LEDs have become the easiest enablers to meet challenges of Indian home décor. A living room can be turned into a weekend party zone by choosing from the 16 million colour options in a single smart LED bulb. A dinner area can be temporarily converted into a study area by increasing the brightness. One can set the appropriate brightness and colour in accordance with the décor, and using the Mesh technology that allows connectivity between different smart LED bulbs, one can control all the lights from one spot.

A convenient route to energy consumption

Fortunately, smart LEDs using Bluetooth Mesh technology don’t require any special wiring, hub, or electrical boards. It can be controlled via mobile applications, such as the Svarochi app that can customise and save individual light settings, as well as memorise the movement and customization pattern for ease of use. As smart lighting technology remembers when to switch on or off, what temperature to function at, as well as the brightness, it facilitates excellent energy efficiency and minimal energy wastage. In 2012 alone, more than 49 million LEDs were installed in the US, that saved about $675 million in annual energy costs.

Advantages of Smart Lighting

There are four reasons why you should use smart lighting. First and foremost it can save you money on a utilities bill. That’s because a smart lighting network is very energy efficient; it allows you to calibrate when exactly a light should be on. Smart lights can also simplify your life. When preparing to travel, you won’t have to physically alter the settings of each smart light or check to see if it is off before you leave. You can do all this remotely, from afar.

On asking about the benefits of Smart Lighting Technology, Kartik Pareek said, “Major benefits will include long term cost and energy saving benefits. Automated turn on turn off leads to savings as well as technology which controls the ambience and colors leads to saving of investing in additional equipments. Unmanned control and operation in public areas will lead to more suitable soltlutons towards greenificaton of electricity”.

Some Smart lighting Products

Here are some of the most popular smart lighting options out there. Keep in mind there are many more in existence, and that this is a brief overview.

Philips Hue

The Philips Hue Connected Bulb system enables you to wirelessly control the colour and intensity of your home lighting. The 3-bulb starter kit is expensive at $199.95, but you’ll be able to use it with the Philips Hue app for Android and iOS.

It’s a surprisingly powerful and easy-to-use tool that lets you wirelessly and remotely program everything from the intensity and schedules to custom colours and colour combinations of up to 50 Hue LED lights.

Samsung Smart Bulb

Samsung Smart Bulb is a Bluetooth-only smart light – unlike the Wi-Fi-based Philips Hue – that was unveiled earlier this year. A smartphone app will give you direct control of up to 64 bulbs at once, at a range of up to 2,000 feet.

The bulbs can be dimmed all the way down to 10 per cent brightness, and you can adjust the bulbs’ spectrum from 2700K (arm white) to 6500K (cool white). You’ll need a ZigBee hub for home automation however.

LG Smart Lamp

The LG Smart Lamp also unveiled earlier this year. The 10W LED bulb gives Android and iOS users a level of control over their illumination, including a light-based alarm clock setting, as well as a security mode that pretends you’re at home.

Lumen Smartbulb

The Lumen Smartbulb uses Bluetooth, so you won’t need to fork out for that Wi-Fi hub. The bulb itself consumes one-sixth the power of a 40W bulb while delivering comparable light.

The defining period for smart lighting

The lighting industry is undergoing profound change and is experiencing an extended period of disruption and uncertainty.In a world of commoditisation and falling prices, light fittings are no longer simply providing illumination. Instead, suppliers are now looking to offer a growing range of on-board capabilities, so that with the addition of intelligence, sensors, wireless connectivity, and colour tuning we now talk of lighting that is ‘IoT ready’ or ‘digital’.

Intelligence is moving into the luminaire and the interface is moving to standard devices that use a variety of platforms, such as Bluetooth. ‘Self-learning’ algorithms are being deployed and are likely to start to appear as standard on a number of lighting control platforms.Connectivity is the key driver in the lighting market, which is expected to play a leading role in the roll out of the smart city and home.This trend, coupled with the demand for sustainable, energy-efficient lives, means that more businesses and, to a lesser extent, consumers, are looking to find cost-effective ways to reduce their energy consumption by choosing smarter lighting solutions.

A ‘game changer’

The big ‘game changer’ for lighting has been the IoT. With smart light sensors, installers will be able to add intelligence via wireless or hard-wired connections delivering two-way communications.As a result, it’s increasingly unlikely that stand-alone lighting manufacturers will be able to survive, and that an industry in technological flux will also start to see a period of consolidation, with a growing number of acquisitions and mergers bringing a fragmented industry together.

The development of clever lighting enables installers to create solutions that can be tailored for specific installations or retrofits, whether in retail, hospitality or in other commercially premises. The development of programmable LEDs allows manufacturers to create clever luminaires with unique, customisable performance profiles. Smart intelligent lighting is seen as forming an essential component of today’s building management platforms.

Sensors can be placed anywhere there is a light fixture, and those sensors can provide information for applications including: HVAC, motion detection to prevent intruders, smoke detection, triggering an alarm, activating automatic door locks, providing emergency lighting, and monitoring air quality.

But this can be extended well beyond one building to include entire neighborhoods and cities. Sensors can be mounted in streetlights to monitor traffic and control traffic lights, weather conditions, and light specific areas on demand, as well as manage energy consumption. It should also be possible to be able to programme these sensors to do different things and to adapt to address a variety of end uses. The data that’s collected can then be sent to the Cloud and processed there.

Today, the Internet has become the communication platform for almost everything, including machine-to-machine communications. Lighting is seen as providing the perfect framework for IoT-enabled infrastructure. But that then raises the issue of interoperability.

 Interoperability

Among the standards addressing the lighting market are: DALI, the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface, which has been the preferred standard for digital lighting controls including LEDs; ZigBee, a wireless standard that provides control over devices, such as lighting; and TALQ, which was designed for outdoor lighting systems. As IoT networks require hundreds or thousands of devices to communicate using small packets of device data, Bluetooth Mesh is seen as offering a number of key advantages over other protocols.

While the promise of smart lighting is set to become a reality, clever lighting solutions are providing solutions in the real-world. Technology and the IoT are forcing change and to be competitive and successful, manufacturers understand that they now have to offer LED luminaires that are equipped with IoT-ready sensors and that are simple to install and maintain.

But they also have to contend with a commercial lighting market that has a well-developed supply and deployment strategy, and with plenty of “dumb” luminaires deployed, or still being manufactured, the installation of smarter luminaires capable of supporting the IoT is likely to take many years.

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