3 Major Ways LEDs are Evolving: Lessons Learned From LIGHTFAIR International

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This year's LIGHTFAIR International conference was held April 26-28 at the San Diego Convention Center. As usual, it was bustling with packed trade show floors and educational sessions. But this year’s focus was on more than the revolution of competitively priced LEDs. As expected, manufacturers brought their A-game with innovative lighting and controls solutions that capitalize on versatile LED technology and its ability to captur­e data.

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It’s clear that LED applications are quickly evolving, and it’s happening in three major ways.

They’re more wireless than ever.

Lighting and controls systems have come a long way from wall dimmers. The technology behind LEDs continues to enable manufacturers to create integrated wireless controls and lighting systems that support the demand for specified energy management and building analytics. Many lighting products now integrate Zigbee, the wireless protocol with an open standard mesh network control system. There’s also more Bluetooth integration. This wireless technology is now cost effective in lighting applications and offers a point-to-point control system with added security. Manufacturers are quickly adopting these technologies to prepare for new building codes that will go into effect in 2017. 

They’re more adaptable to our environments.

Many LEDs now seamlessly dim to warm and change color from warm to cool to provide more visual comfort. These specifications enrich our environments aesthetically and create personalized lighting controls capabilities in any space. Research has shown that these enhancements can improve our productivity, circadian rhythms, and overall wellness in the built environment. A notable example of this technology from LIGHTFAIR was Acuity’s RUBIK. Its cell-like LED series of ceiling luminaires helped it achieve Best in Category for Commercial Indoor Lighting Innovation at the event. All forms of RUBIK comprise of dynamic lighting features such as white, tunable white, gray-scale, and color accent. These features are ideal for the smart office setting. 

They’re critical to the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the Google Analytics of the lighting world – intelligent and networked. Its growing popularity was visible at this year’s event, from the trade show floor to breakout sessions. Its capabilities have extended beyond LED illumination and controls properties. It now impacts how we interact with our built environment. Technology is embedded in each connected fixture that can track and interact with a person’s movement as well as mobile phones. It can be used within a building’s lighting system as well as in outdoor applications like city street lighting. Whether IoT is used to provide wayfinding, track assets, or enhance security, this technology is helping us move toward smarter buildings and cities. Its ability to capture data and use it to enhance our experience in a retail setting, or make our cities safer, is the next step to offering customers more value beyond traditional ROI.

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