LED – technology of endless possibilities

Bogdan Rogala, Philips Lighting CEE

Solutions based on LED technology in combination with the Internet of Things open a wide range of possibilities like, for instance, light control, data collection, remote infrastructure management (…)” – says Bogdan Rogala, General Manager, Philips Lighting CEE

PolandWeek: Why did it take so long to adapt the LED technology to everyday use?

In the beginning, the quality of light was not sufficiently high, not so high as to apply it to the general lighting. The second problem was a lack of adequate energy efficiency. First LEDs were in gages, for highlighting cell phone screens or car dashboards, so wherever big stream of light was not necessary. The moment of inventing diodes emitting blue light was a breakthrough because this made it possible to produce bright and energy saving sources of white light. For this discovery, which took place in the mid-’90s, its discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014. Apart from that, global warming and energy efficiency have become worldwide challenges in the late 1990s. At that time LED light was deemed to be the technology of the future. This accelerated investments in R+D considerably.

Why is LED lighting so popular today?

The reason is that it’s energy efficient source of light, it’s eco-friendly, does not contain harmful substances, such as mercury. LED technology allowed for greater miniaturization, but above all, it enables to control lighting. Today light is a combination of electronics and the Internet. Pure Internet of Things.

What is the potential of lighting in the face of new technologies?

Solutions based on LED technology in combination with the Internet of Things open a wide range of possibilities like, for instance, light control, data collection, remote infrastructure management, what was not possible to such an extent in the era of conventional lighting. Today we can manage light in the home through an app on the smartphone, matching colors and light intensity to own needs and mood. A city can freely control lighting via computer or mobile device, and adjust them to traffic volume, weather,  time of day, year, or special event.

Today, there is still too little discussion about why lighting is so important to humans.

Lighting has a major impact on health and well-being. There is a lot of research being carried out in this field, but there is still a lot to be done. Last Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2017 proved that. It was awarded for work on a biological clock. It thoroughly described the impact of the light on circadian rhythm as well.

How does this impact look in practice?

Natural daylight stimulates to action and regulates the circadian rhythm of human functioning. Thanks to changing color and amount of natural light, we are active in the daytime, we get quiet in the evening, and we don’t have problems with sleeping after dusk. Lack of sunlight may have a negative impact on our mood – this is why in autumn and winter lots of people suffer from depressed mood, and even from seasonal depression. Cloudy days make us feel sleepy and sluggish. It is more difficult for us to focus, we are also easily irritable. Artificial light selected appropriately, for example, by its color and amount is crucial to our mood.

Though, lighting has much to do with energy efficiency.

20 percent of the energy consumed globally is for light. New systems of lighting control decrease power consumption by up to 70 percent. On a scale of businesses, local governments and countries this means significant savings. Those systems are efficient because they provide an adequate amount of light only when it’s needed. Let’s imagine that we can control the lighting of few thousand stores from one place.

That is, among other things, to the merit of the Internet of Things.

Lighting is becoming its great beneficiary.

How does lighting in the world of the Internet of Things and Big Data related to it, work?

For instance, in offices LED luminaires with built-in sensors collect anonymous data about lighting and ways of workplace usage. It allows to optimize light, air conditioning, cleaning, and space use to increase efficiency, reduce energy consumption and costs. Employees can use apps to book conference rooms, navigate around the office, and personalize their surrounding area.

In the future, lighting infrastructure will serve other purposes as well. Global deployment of 5G will let lighting to be a source of much information. In cities, there will be sensors for pollution and noise monitoring, as well as Wi-Fi, placed on lighting columns. Opportunities for integrating lighting into those systems are tremendous.

At what stage is the use of the Internet of Things in Philips Lighting?

In addition to the use of IoT and LED in cities or offices, Philips Lighting has patented the system of using luminaries for navigating inside buildings, based on VLC technology, which works perfectly in supermarkets. It works more like Google Maps inside the building except that, in this instance, lighting plays a role of medium for data. Luminaries emit specific code received by consumers’ smartphone camera. All we have to do is, having dedicated app installed, to enter the supermarket, holding the smartphone in our hand. The device will communicate with lighting installed in stores, and the system will determine our location with an accuracy of 30 cm. Owing to this, clients can find a needed product, doing shopping faster, they also can benefit from promotions and rebates that have been prepared based on their location. Supermarket chain gains information about how clients move around the supermarket, which promotion zones are most attractive. It can build a new channel of communication with consumers.

How does smart lighting look in the home? Philips Hue provides a full spectrum of colors.

Yes, above 16 million. By using Philips Hue, we can create lighting scenes by matching light colors to the occasion, for example, on weekends, holidays, or when we want to celebrate a special event. We can light up a bathroom, corridor, bedroom in a different way, matching lighting amount and colors to the interior design and our activities. Hue gives consumers new opportunities. So far, we could only turn on and off the light. Today, when we are on holiday, we can remotely control the lighting in our home what can scare off potential thieves. We can wake up with warm, sunny light even on cloudy days. We can boost our children’s creativity by playing with the light colors. It’s no longer just an alarm on the phone that will remind us of doing shopping or taking an umbrella on a rainy day – we can program lighting in such a way that it will remind us of what is important to us.

Consumers often treat new technological solutions like gadgets, but in this case, it is more than that.

Clients began to see how strong influence has the light on our mood and eyesight. Education on lighting is still needed. Not everyone is aware that to choose the right lighting, it is necessary to pay attention to color temperature, amount of light, color rendering index or product durability. Not only is the quality of light connected with its durability but also it has an impact on eye fatigue and viewing comfort.

We should invest in high-quality lighting which is compliant with, among other things, the standard of photobiological safety. This way we care about our eyesight.

The future of light. What changes can we expect?

The market is heading for systems of control and integration – connecting lighting points in one network based on wireless technology, collecting data in a cloud (cloud-based).

The second direction is the development of open lighting applications. It means that each third-party can build its applications relying on already available solutions.

IoT has changed not only a way to access or manage given systems but also the business model in which it should be implemented. On the example of the lighting – today, for instance, a factory doesn’t buy luminaries as such, but it purchases performance and functionality it wants them to meet. It’s supplier’s role to maintain them or, when necessary, recycle. Purchase of lighting in the form of service opens up such opportunities.