Move over, phrases such as “outside the box” and “drill down” and “at the end of the day,” there’s a new term being bandied about at industry shows and it especially applies to lighting: “human-centric.”

When I was at the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair in October, the fair was rife with the term — from products to seminar topics. The problem is “human-centric lighting” refers to something very specific (i.e. how lighting affects our circadian rhythms). However, with today’s heavy emphasis on healthcare/wellness at the consumer level, every business wants in on the growing trend.

Creating more aesthetic settings for patients has become more prevalent now that hospitals and healthcare facilities are aggressively competing for business. This has led to offering dimmer controls at the patient’s bedside as well as warmer color temperatures in lighting versus the harsher ambient lighting from the typical fluorescent fixtures.

There are a lot of studies being done by the Lighting Research Center and the California Lighting Technology Center as well as by independent lighting engineers that examine the effect of various light levels and color temperatures on people’s mood and sleep cycles. This all fits under the “human-centric lighting” idea.

What I was seeing at the overseas show was the overuse of the term as a marketing tool for lighting that was merely energy-efficient (i.e. LED or fluorescent). Having a table lamp or fixture equipped with 4000K or 5000K LED does not make it “human-centric.”

True “human-centric lighting” will be increasing in importance — especially as Baby Boomers enter retirement and will face challenges such as needing more light to read and see by (remember the metric that a 60-year-old needs twice as much light as a 30-year-old). Showroom owners, keep this term in mind and how it could be meaningful to your customer base. Manufacturers, be aware that this topic is on an upward trajectory and consider exploring the research to see if it warrants expanding your line to include these types of products.

In my opinion, the year 2017 is going to be an exciting one for the residential lighting industry. There are a lot of technological developments underway and consumer awareness for proper lighting continues to grow. Cheers to a Happy New Year, everyone!

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