The Future of LED Lighting
When it comes to lighting, we are in the most revolutionary time since Thomas Edison’s creation of the light bulb. The technology of LED lighting has grown rapidly over the past few decades. LED lighting has become a mainstay in commercial spaces, industrial spaces, schools, hospitals, and even residences. However, there is so much more that can be accomplished than simply providing illumination.
Human-Centric LED Lighting
Human-centric LED lighting works with the people occupying the space to create the most effective environment for them. This can be done in several different ways. The first is color tuning for LED lighting. An LED light typically provides a significant improvement in the quality of light because its broad, smooth color spectrum is more similar to the sun’s color spectrum than other artificial light sources. The color of light works with the natural circadian rhythms of human beings (or wake and sleep cycle). Blue light, which is typically more present in LED lighting (and the sun) than in incandescent lighting, for example, helps combat fatigue and creates an overall sensation of being awake by suppressing the production of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. Red-rich lighting, on the hand, which has much less blue content, and can also be produced by LEDs, can help promote a sense of sleepiness by allowing the production of melatonin. LED color tuning technology which an LED bulb to change color electronically can be beneficial, for example, for hospital lighting. Bulbs tuned to blue-rich LED lighting can help keep nursing staff alert during night shifts, while LED lights in a patient’s room can be tuned to more restful red-rich lighting.
The second and third types of human-centric technology include dimmable and occupancy sensing capabilities. The LED light would sense the ambient light in the room and adjust the brightness of the light based upon the available light coming in from windows or other sources. This technology has wide applicability from retail stores to industrial warehouses and more. Occupancy sensing helps decrease the amount of energy spent illuminating rooms that have no one in them. This could either be done by motion-sensing or heat-sensing. Both of these technologies are not just helpful for individuals, but it is also beneficial for the environment. Dimming lights and turning off lights when there is no occupancy, greatly decreases the amount of energy used, both helping the planet by creating less greenhouse gas as well as adding dollars to a company’s bottom line.
IoT – The Internet of Things
The IoT, or the Internet of Things, refers to the ever-growing network of devices that feature internet connectivity, and communication that occurs between these devices and other Internet-enabled devices and systems. How does this fit in with LED lighting? Since lighting is used everywhere, IoT enabled lighting simplifies the creation of connected systems. Having an IoT enabled LED light in every room of a building can help create an overall smarter building with virtually unlimited capabilities. In fact, the human-centric lighting that we mentioned earlier could probably be most effectively implemented with IoT compatible lighting. However, that would hardly be the only IoT application. IoT compatible LED lighting could be the core of systems that optimize air conditioning and heating, power grid management, and even next-generation wireless communications.
The newest concept to come from the evolution of LED lighting is Li-Fi. Essentially, Li-Fi is the upgraded version of Wi-Fi internet connectivity using light rather than radio waves with an ability to transfer data at speeds up to one hundred times faster! Shuji Nakamura, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the blue LED, has even called Li-Fi the next step in LED technology. Having Li-Fi integrated into the LED lighting would create an alternate path for internet connectivity in commercial spaces and offices, where internet connectivity can sometimes pose a problem.