Measurement & Instrumentation


Lightfair 2016 Update: Connected lighting and lighting beyond illumination takes center stage

by Konkana Khaund 29 Apr 2016
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Technology innovation, design, education and interactivity-Lightifair 2016 combined all of this intensively with some 500+ exhibitors and a swarm of visitors throughout the last three days in San Diego, California. As I scouted through the many booths spread across six pavilions, including one that was wholly dedicated to building integration, the message was amply clear: lighting has moved well beyond its traditional realm of just illuminating a space. As presented in its new avatar by numerous small and big companies at this year’s show, the world of possibilities that lighting can enable with connectivity and design innovation plugged into it is immense and growing.

Connected lighting and IoT, encompassing internet-connected fixtures, linking smart devices to networks and managed via could based platforms, was a common theme for a number of major suppliers including Philips, Current (GE), Eaton, Acuity, Cree, Osram Sylvania and more. In addition, location based services that connected people to their environments via lighting was also a point of demonstration. End-to-end connected lighting strategies may not be the focus for all players, though partnerships to enable that capability was predominant amongst all exhibitors showcasing connected lighting, with Cisco appearing as common link across many of these suppliers in terms of strategic partnership. Connected Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting systems were the other rage this year, with several LED and lighting control companies showcasing their luminaires with embedded sensors, cable, and gateways that tie into Ethernet switches. The messages around huge cost reductions with PoE in new lighting installations and significantly greater energy savings were communicated aggressively by these players.

Smart lighting enabling smart cities: Besides Current (GE) and Philips (CityTouch Connector node LED) that heavily focused on demos of smart city lighting and how lighting can enhance security, public safety and enable a host of city function, there were others such as Sensity and Minebea that showcased smart city options with lighting. Partnerships with security solutions providers, IoT companies and other component and hub providers were key characteristics of these value propositions.

Health and Wellness: Elevating experiences with lighting, in particular how lighting influences circadian rhythm was another area that received specific focus from technology providers that demonstrated the use of lighting to improve wellbeing, productivity and other intangible subjective benefits that further established the extended role of lighting. Acuity Brands, Lighting Science Inc., Philips and WattStopper Legrand were prominent among those that unveiled products built on circadian rhythm regulating platform and principles. For instance, Wattstopper Legrand introduced a multitude of new Wattstopper DLM capabilities and tools including code-compliant circadian rhythm lighting system. As part of the company's partnership with Lumenetix, this system will be interoperable with Lumenetix's araya5 platform.

Continued advancements in Controls and LED, encompassing more efficient indoor and outdoor luminaires, lamps, light engines and drivers were prominent from large and small players, including those from manufacturers in Asia. New innovations in industrial LEDs from suppliers like Thomas & Betts, Digital Lumens, LumenPulse and daylight integration products from Lutron, Xeleum, C3, Digital Lumens, Audacy and others showcased the advancements in light modulation, sustainability, light quality and smart controls. Lutron, unlike its other lighting counterparts, also showcased its line of home control platforms – the Caseta Wireless smart home systems, compatible with third-party devices that can be connected to the Lutron App via the Lutron Smart Bridge, which made for a nice showcase of product lines, beyond just lighting.

As expected, the number of options towards LED retrofits is growing, with solutions in various configurations and price points from Forest Lighting, Cree, ABB, Digital Lumens, Soraa and a host of other manufacturers. In the area of chips and wafers, there was a distinct segregation of players, with companies such Samsung choosing to provide premium solutions with the latest chip technology as a point of key differentiation from their low cost Asian counterparts. Samsung’s chip-on-board LED, with a small light-emitting surface and vivid colors that follows the Zhaga standard was a key highlight in their demo booth. Though it is early to predict if the premium positioning will help the company gain better traction, it was clear that their corporate vision strongly gravitated towards promoting quality over price.

Building integration: Integration of lighting with the overall building systems, centralized management and supervision, as well as interoperability with other devices and systems within the buildings was a key point of emphasis in LFI 2016, with a full pavilion dedicated to technology integrators and vendors that are advancing this proposition. Connected lighting and integration of lighting with building systems, smart building control, sensing, and Enterprise IoT applications, allowing efficiencies to be achieved from collective intelligence, was propagated through the presence of players such as Daintree Networks (acquired by GE Current), Autec, Nanoleaf and several others that showcased the extended advantages of integrating lighting with building controls.

Overall, LFI 2016 brought together established and emerging participants of an ever growing and complex industry that is in the cusp of significant transformational changes triggered by connectivity, IoT and smart innovations in design and technology. As the trend in innovation continues further, it is safe to presume that the industry will undoubtedly prepare to witness yet more evolutionary concepts and solutions within this course of a year, all waiting to converge at LFI 2017 in Philadelphia.

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