When in 1800, Alessandro Volta connected a copper wire between the two ends of his groundbreaking pile of alternating discs of zinc and copper — interspersed with layers of cardboards soaked in salt water, the copper wire started glowing, the history of science recorded the phenomenon as the first indication of electric current generation in laboratory. However, a little consideration makes us understand that it was also the first ancestor of the incandescent bulbs, which were much improved – and later in 1879 patented by Thomas Alva Edison as the first commercially successful electric bulb.
Although it was an epoch-making invention at that point of time, perhaps not even the wisest of the scientists then could even dream of a lamp that could communicate with users, other equipment in the circuit and the devices or actuators around – that too without a connection established through a conducting wire. But today it has been possible.
Smart Lighting Systems (SLSs)
I believe it will not be an exaggeration to say that we live in the Smart Age, because now literally everything is smart around us. We are planning for Smart Cities, where Smart Buildings will be equipped with Smart Gadgets, in which Smart Lighting will play a leading role. Then we all need to know what exactly Smart Lighting means.
To put it in the simplest way: a smart light is an LED lamp having an embedded software to help it connect to an app or smart home assistant or other smart accessory, so that it can be operated remotely. Now the question arises, what can be done through such remote control?
As two or more such bulbs are connected to a Network, they can be switched on /off, dimmed or colour-changed remotely – no wall mounted switches are required. They can be operated with the help of a computer or a hand-held device like a smartphone
Contextually, it must be understood that Smart Lighting Systems can be deployed at indoor as well as outdoor areas. They may be used to make a saloon colourful, at the same time their application is possible on a road – (say) for example when traffic is there the intensity of illumination increases and vice versa. However, as Will Gibson; Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at Telensa, a technology company delivering the world’s largest smart streetlight control systems; rightly points out, “The outdoor lighting controls market is fragmented, with many vendors having a limited deployment footprint. We know the industry is looking for resilient turnkey solutions that are proven at scale and with the largest city and utility lighting networks.”
IoT- backed SLSs
Nowadays, we all are aware of the latest market buzz IoT (Internet of Things). As per Wikipedia IoT refers to: “A system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers – and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
Obviously, such a system is a boon to the Smart Lighting Systems, because it can be a great source of data collection and action. For example: if a speaker (night) lamp is connected through IoT; depending on the number of people in the room, their average distance from the speaker and (say) the time in the clock or beginning of their sleeping hour; the lamp may increase or decrease the volume of the speaker automatically as per the requirement. In the later part of the article, I will focus on some of the recent projects that will explain the huge potential of IoT in smart lighting industry.
Growth Potential & Current Trends of SLSs
Towards the beginning of this year, a research report from Research And Markets indicated that “Global Smart Lighting Market is estimated to grow from USD 13.4 billion in 2020 & and projected to reach USD 30.6 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 18.0%.”
The report also points at some notable trends including: i) Government initiatives and policies for energy savings to drive the growth of smart lighting market; ii) Wired technology is expected to hold a larger share of the smart lighting market by 2025; iii) Highways & roadways to hold the largest size of smart lighting market for outdoor application during the forecast period; and iv) Smart lighting market in APAC is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.
The report was published during the initial days of Covid 19 spreads, so the scenario has changed a bit now. However, as people all over the world are now confident of getting Covid 19 vaccine that is expected soon, the momentum is expected to be regenerated within a few months.
An important point to be noted here that according to Research And Markets’ observation, “This growth is attributed to rapid infrastructure building activities being undertaken in APAC, mainly in China and India, where Smart Lighting paves the way for the modernization of infrastructure. The modernization and development of infrastructure such as Smart Cities across the region, coupled with government policies to support energy-efficient lighting, would also drive the demand for Smart Street Lights (automatic switch on/off, high or low lumen distribution based on street-traffic), thereby driving the market for Smart Lighting in this region.
A Few Recently Launched Devices
As said earlier that Smart Lighting has been the latest buzzword in the market, a plethora of Smart Lighting products are available today and more are coming. Within the small span of this article, I cannot describe all of them, however, I will talk here about some arbitrarily chosen ones.
Signify has recently announced several new and updated Philips Hue products, which will bring a new perception to our cooking and dining experience, enabling us to highlight specific objects. The new and updated products include a brighter standard bulb, a new family of indoor ceiling fixtures, an updated Philips Hue lightstrip, an updated Philips Hue Bloom, and additions to the Bluetooth-capable Philips Hue White ambiance indoor range of fixtures.
With a view to providing more consumers with enhanced smart home options, GE Lighting has recently added several new C by GE technologies to its ever-expanding portfolio of smart home products. Advanced lighting switch and dimmer technologies, as well as new comfort, safety and security solutions, have been designed to integrate and interact with existing C by GE products to provide an easy-to-use, improved and more complete smart home network. The same set of products will be launched for retail stores later this year. All these new products that extend beyond the lighting space can be operated through a single mobile application that is very simple to install, use and maintain.
Ring has entered 2020 with a robust lineup of security devices, and the company will continue to focus on innovating new products – while enhancing its customers’ experiences especially around privacy and user control. The company is now enabling its customers to upgrade their indoor lamps and outdoor light fixtures with Smart LED Lightbulbs. These Smart LED Lightbulbs create a complete network of security lights in and around the home. Ring’s first-ever line of Smart LED Lightbulbs launched with two styles: the A19 Smart LED Bulb, great for inside areas of the home and outside in protected areas, and the PAR38 Smart LED Bulb, ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. With these new, Alexa-enabled Smart LED Lightbulbs, Ring users can now use the Ring Bridge to group and control the Smart LED Lightbulbs – remotely turn their lights on and off, adjust the brightness, and set schedules right from the Ring app. And when linked with other Ring security devices with motion sensors, the Smart LED Lightbulbs can be set to turn on when any motion is detected.
Brief on a Few Current Projects
According to the information from Semtech Corporation, Korea Expressway Corporation (KEC), a government affiliated company building and managing expressways in South Korea, has built a network based on Semtech’s LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol for its expressways as the first stage in its ongoing four-year Internet of Things (IoT) deployment plan in the country.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has partnered with Signify, the world leader in lighting, to support Smart Street Lighting NY, a statewide program that calls for at least 500,000 streetlights throughout the state to be replaced with energy-efficient LED technology by 2025. Through the program, NYPA provides financial, logistical, technical and informational support for cities that want to upgrade their street lighting systems.
Commenting on the versatile benefits of Smart Street Lighting, Gil Quiniones, NYPA President and CEO, said, “In addition to illumining roadways, street lighting systems are essential vertical assets in smart city deployments. Municipalities can save money on their utility bills and maintenance costs by adopting connected LED lighting while leveraging the value of their street lighting systems for additional benefits.”
Shenzhen World serves as a venue for events and has space for restaurants, shopping and offices. With a total area of around 1.48 million square metres, including 500,000 square metres of indoor space, Shenzhen World has broken eight world records as the world’s largest exhibition and convention centre. Recently, Osram has developed an extensive interior lighting solution for this extraordinarily complex and large building. To illuminate the entire venue evenly, the Osram installation has taken full advantage of daylight and arranged lighting in such a way that it meets the special needs of the individual areas. More than 100,000 indoor LED fixtures have been installed in over ten indoor areas, such as the multifunctional hall, the media centre, the ballroom, the international lecture hall and the stadium, to create modern rooms with ideal lighting.
As a recent survey of Research And Markets points out, some prominent factors like: Growing demand of Street Lighting Systems, Increasing need for Energy-Efficient Lighting Systems and High penetration of LED bulbs & lightings globally will continue to push the demand of Smart Lighting Systems (SLSs). Internet of Things (IoT) will facilitate further integration and robust Networks of Smart Gadgets will be the most common feature of the Smart Buildings of the Smart Cities of the forthcoming Smart Days. However, for economically less privileged societies High Installation and Maintenance Cost in Smart Lightning Systems will be a challenge.
As an emerging business segment, Smart Lighting will definitely gain mileage from the emergence of IoT & AI Technology and growing developments in Smart City Projects, especially in APAC will promote and popularise its application manifold.