Monday, 8 December 2014

The future for lighting: Smart Lighting



The sale of home lamps that can do everything is about to be turned on, according to a new research report, lamp vendors will sell nearly a quarter of a billion smart lamps each year by 2020. 

Smart Lamps as they are commonly being known as, are LED lamps that connect to digital networks and can therefore perform in a variety of innovative ways. Some of these include; users being able to remotely switch their lamps on or off and change the brightness or colour from the comfort of their sofa or from around the world through apps. Whilst some smart lamps have been developed to flash when they detect smoke or intruders, to pulsate music and respond to other sounds and to light up inside the house when your car arrives into the driveway or turn your key in the lock. 

Smart lamps are associated with smart home controls similar to the Nest by Google and with the newcomer the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) or 'Internet of Everything' (IoE) which is the concept that all the planet's objects can communicate with people as well as each other. The common example of this being the fridge that detects a shortage of beer and promptly orders more to replenish its stocks. Smart home controls are will be able to do these things as they are already built around LEDs, which in addition to emitting light also act as an electronic chip. 

Most LED lamps on the market are not yet 'smart.' Whilst they offer energy savings of 80% or more compared to traditional light sources and are said to last over twenty years most lamp producers have not yet teamed this technology with intelligence. But this is changing, Philips have created the Hue lamp which can change to any desired colour as well as many other features. 

As prices start to drop and developers begin to standardise wireless controls, shipments will rapidly increase. GE have annoucned their smart lamp, 'Link' which will be sold for about £10, closing the price gap between smart lamps and non-smart LED lamps. 

The ABI said in a local press release that,' annual smart bulb shipments are set to increase to 223 million by 2020, achieving a total installed base of over 400 million.' This is a huge increase on the 2.5 million units that the ABI research said sold in 2013.
ABI practice director Malik Saadi has commented that, 'Because of the additional dimensions smart lighting brings to the consumer lifestyle, including lighting automation, and because of its carbon footprint efficiency, this industry will rapidly become one of the key technologies that could bring IoE closer to consumers.' 

The move towards connected smart lighting is attracting other industries into home and commercial lighting. Internet companies are poised to play a big role and even the automobile industry is on the convergence trail, with BMW recently announcing street lighting combined with an electric car charger. This begs the question, which industry does smart lighting really belong to? How likely is it that Google will become the next owner of the lighting profession?