Last month’s Lightfair International, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, provided enough technological “magic” to rival many Las Vegas performers. The future is here — and it’s going to require the latest software.
By nearly all accounts from attendees and exhibitors alike, the recent edition of Lightfair was the most exciting in several years. Sure, there were line extensions added to popular LED products, but there was also an incredible amount of innovation and applications on display.
The capabilities of controls have been greatly expanded far beyond turning lights on and off from a homeowner’s or building manager’s smart phone. The idea of daylight harvesting – which has had its own pavilion within Lightfair for quite a number of years – has become a more mainstream topic now as the concept has gained wider acceptance.
|The Lumen Being OLED luminaire, from Acuity, is an OLED concept offering glare-free, high-quality personalized lighting and interactive lighting control.||The Integrated Room Control system by Leviton.|
For example, Leviton addressed the growing interest in its daylight harvesting products by launching its turnkey Integrated Room Control (IRC) system specifically designed to provide Title 24 and ASHRAE 90.1 required control functions for commercial lighting needs. The IRC combines daylight harvesting, 0-10V dimming, and demand response capabilities in a single stand-alone, easy-to-install, integrated solution for controlling two or three zones. It is bundled with a factory-configured sensor, photocell, and entry station with optional custom engraving.
This self-contained, self-configuring system complies with energy code requirements from basic switching and dimming to multi-zone daylight harvesting and demand response while taking into account changing environmental conditions.
In addition, Leviton’s IRC systems have an AutoCal™ feature that automates photocell calibration to establish maximum light output levels and calculate light loss factors. The result is consistently accurate lumen output. Its Ladderless Commissioning™ feature allows installers to set up the system and adjust it from the wall-mounted switch rather than having to climb a ladder to fine-tune adjustments as natural light levels vary.
At Lutron Electronics, Quantum Vue building management software has been added to the company’s popular Quantum® Total Light Management™ System. Accessible from any smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer, Quantum Vue helps streamline the building management process by enabling facilities teams to access their building lighting control anytime from anywhere. The intuitive Quantum Vue software helps facility managers by monitoring and reporting all of the lighting energy used in a space. It also allows them to reprogram lighting scenes and shade presets from a mobile device, smart phone, or computer and ties all building lighting and shade controls together under one system interface.
|The Quantum Vue system by Lutron||This MedMaster™ M4 green LED surgical suite luminaire, from Kenall Lighting, is designed for surgical environments that demand a range of visual conditions and requirements.|
It’s not only building managers who will benefit by having their smart phones at the ready, but also consumers. Acuity Brands demonstrated lighting technology that empowers retailers to enhance their customers’ experiences through their mobile devices plus increase in-store sales. The company pointed to research from The Dawn of Mobile Influence Study conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP, which reported more than 60 percent of mobile shoppers use their smart phones while in-store, and 85 percent of consumers use retailers’ native apps or Web sites during their shopping trips. The conclusion? Retailers have a significant opportunity to engage consumers on their smart phones.
Using Lumicast™ technology from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., Acuity Brands’ smart LED lighting technology on display at Lightfair demonstrated how retailers can engage customers on mobile devices based on their location in the store, providing relevant coupons and the ability to enable customers to quickly and easily find merchandise throughout the store.
“[Our] demonstration showcases the ability of our commercially available eldoLED® driver platform to deliver both illumination and visible light communication,” says Steve Lydecker, Acuity Brands’ Lighting Senior Vice President of Applied Integrated Solutions. “This new technology allows LED lighting to be an asset for retailers, not only because of the productivity gains, energy savings, and overall environment improvements it provides, but also because of its emerging capacity for enhancing and changing in-store customer experiences. Guiding the shopper through the store based on the shopper’s actual position, visible light communication technology opens the door for retailers to more effectively engage and influence consumers on the retail floor.”
“Qualcomm’s Lumicast technology determines a mobile user’s location within 10 centimeters, as well as the user’s orientation within the aisle,” states Jeff Henckels, Director/Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s research group. “Combined with the LED lighting technology from Acuity Brands, this is enabling retailers to provide new levels of value in customer engagement, analytics, and workforce efficiency.”
During Lightfair, Digital Lumens and Xicato announced a strategic partnership to bring wireless intelligent solutions to professional indoor applications while helping to drive adoption and lower the cost of ownership of energy-efficient, smart lighting. By combining Xicato’s XIM Intelligent Modules that integrate driver, dimming, and diagnostic electronics within the light source, and Digital Lumens’ Digital Light Agent (DLA) wireless sensing and control modules, luminaire manufacturers can now offer “intelligent” lighting via LightRules, Digital Lumens’ energy and intelligence software platform. The LightRules-based software system will wirelessly manage lighting and gather key data about the operating environment while delivering Digital Lumens’ signature efficiency, flexibility and control.
“Retail and hospitality segments offer a tremendous growth opportunity for smart lighting,” explains Menko de Roos, CEO of Xicato. “Together we deliver smart lighting that improves efficiencies, lowers ownership costs, and makes sense for the professional indoor lighting community.”
Smart lighting is estimated to evolve quickly with the introduction of these easier-to-use integrated approaches. According to information provided by the two companies – courtesy of MarketsandMarkets’ latest Smart Lighting report – data analytics and smart lighting applications are expected to drive new business models for commerce and information and the Smart Lighting market will surpass $56B by 2020.
This year’s Lightfair also witnessed the increased presence of companies whose core business is with the electronics industry. Since LEDs are used in screens for televisions, laptops, smart phones, and other consumer devices, it was only a matter of time before these companies realized they had some expertise that could benefit the lighting industry. Sharp and Toshiba have a long history of making LED light bulbs overseas (Sharp entered the U.S. LED lighting market in 2010; followed by Toshiba in 2012), but each year there are more players entering the North American market. For example, LG Chem was back at Lightfair with examples of OLED fixture applications, as was Dow Corning which is focusing on the LED lighting market because it dovetails with its research on GaN technology and other complementary businesses.
For example, at Lightfair the company debuted Corning® Fibrance™ Light-Diffusing Fiber, a glass optical fiber optimized for thin, colorful, aesthetic lighting. Fibrance Light-Diffusing Fiber enables decorative lighting to be designed or embedded into tight or small places where other lighting elements can’t fit. The fiber is small, thin, and nearly invisible when the light source is off, plus its flexibility allows it to curve, wrap, or contour around objects while maintaining bright, colorful, and uniform light.
“Through our long history in optical fiber for telecommunications and our expertise in glass and materials science, Corning is well-positioned to bring this new lighting innovation to market,” says Paul Then, Commercial Technology Director, Advanced Optics, Corning Specialty Materials. “Fibrance Light-Diffusing Fiber maintains the bend performance of our data-transmission fiber, but instead of transmitting data, it emits vibrant, continuous light.” At Bayer MaterialScience’s booth, the company’s principal engineer Terry G. Davis presented an educational session that focused on the thermal management properties of its thermally conductive Makrolon® polycarbonate and Bayflex® polyurethane products that can prevent LED lighting from overheating. Instead of the more common scenario of electronic component manufacturers using a heat sink cast of a conductive metal alloy, Bayer MaterialScience’s solution reportedly reduces the amount of sub-components while improving thermal performance and eliminating manual assembly. Encapsulation reduces the number of components, and creates a finished part without the need for manual assembly.
At Eastman Chemical Co., the company has applied its expertise and knowledge of durable and sustainable copolyesters to the LED lighting segment with the introduction of its Eastman Spectar™ Stratus copolyester that conceals the “hot spots” of LEDs without significantly decreasing the light intensity. Depending on the selected gauge of the final product, Spectar Stratus offers light-transmission levels between 80 and 85 percent.
“Spectar Stratus was designed to maximize the lumens/watt that is so critical in the commercial and industrial LED segments as well as make the luminaire as aesthetically pleasing as possible by hiding all the points of light,” says Brad Potter, Market Development Manager for Specialty Plastics at Eastman.
An End to Dressing Room Drama
One of the most-talked-about technologies at Lightfair was the “Debut” product from Osram Sylvania’s Traxon division. With Debut, LED lighting is combined with an intelligent media system from Traxon to transform retail dressing rooms into personalized virtual reality spaces. Lighting combined with video simulated real-life environments in the dressing room via appropriate lighting, video animations of different settings, and customized scenes.
At its core is Traxon’s Cove Light AC HO RGBW, which can simulate real-life lighting conditions from a sunny beach to a dimly-lit restaurant, or a bright office. These realistic settings are filmed, their light levels are measured, and then reproduced in the dressing room. Scenes can be selected using a tablet/PC solution featuring a touch screen user interface. The optimized data from a wide range of settings are stored in a lighting and media control system.
Lightfair 2014 provided a lot of inspiration to architects, lighting specifiers, and distributors alike on many different levels – from OEM developments to complete fixtures. There is no doubt that these are the most exciting days to be in the lighting industry with the promise of more jaw-dropping advances to come.