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Observations from Lightfair 2015: Lighting Joins the Digital Age

In May, the largest lighting show in the U.S.—Lightfair—filled the Javits Center in New York City with new products and solutions, technology seminars and design practice classes.

As expected, solid-state lighting, consisting of LED and OLED fixtures, was prominently on display. Some exciting changes are coming to LED lighting.

  • Warm dimming: Ability for LED lighting to turn a warmer color upon dimming, much like incandescent lamps do.
  • Tunable white: The ability for LED lighting to have built-in basic color temperatures that can be selectable, e.g., 3000K, 3500K, 4100K, 5000K. Currently you have to purchase fluorescent and LED lighting with the desired color.
  • Tunable spectrum: The ability for LED lighting to have built-in color selection.
  • Selectable white: The ability for all LED fixtures to be an exact white across various brands of lighting manufacturers.

But the most buzz was around the fact that solid-state lighting is now entering the digital world and the Internet of Things. In the future, illumination will be something that lighting fixtures can do, but the fixtures themselves will do much more, in the same way that making calls is just one application of smartphone technology.

  • Street and roadway fixtures can have built-in cameras and transmitters for surveillance, monitoring vehicle pattern flows, reading license plates and sensing temperature changes and road conditions.
    • GE Smart City is testing this in two cities, San Diego, California, and Jacksonville, Florida.
    • Sensity, which embeds sensing and networking technology within retrofit and new LED luminaires, is partnering with Acuity Brands and is in talks with the City of Boston, Simon Properties—the largest owner of malls, including the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota—and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Interior retail fixtures can have built-in Bluetooth and flickering light patterns invisible to people that allow shoppers to download an app for product coupons and product guidance while within a mall or store.
    • Acuity Brands acquired ByteLight, which provides indoor location software for LED lighting.
    • Grocery stores and large retailers like Target and Walmart are testing this now.