The Future of Light

It might seem overwhelming now, but the rate of change in the lighting landscape is set to increase.  We've managed the transition to LED technology, but that's only the first step.  LED means electronics - which is a completely new playing field for light, which was, in the past, merely cleverly constructed glass and chemical combinations that lit up when energy was applied.

Cast your mind back to the invention of the mobile phone - we started off amazed that we could talk to anyone from anywhere and in ten short years we came to rely on our phones as the source of all knowledge - on which we could sometimes talk to another human - if we have to.

All the indicators are there to say that lighting is on a similar trajectory.  We're currently amazed that LED can make light so efficiently, and last for such a long time, which is great.  But in five to ten short years, with the electronics that drive lighting getting smaller, more complex, capable of larger information processing, our lighting will likely become a new source of all knowledge - about us, and for us.

We already have light globes with security systems, sensors and colour adjustment, timers, bluetooth speakers, WiFi boosters and that is not even touching on all the "party trick" light globes that change colour and can be integrated with computer games and sound systems for an immersive experience.  We will all have a great time playing with this technology over the next few years as it improves in accessibility and functionality.

The next stage will be the data captured and stored by our lighting - registering our patterns and using that information to intuit our needs.  We've seen it in movies - and it will become part of our reality.

In truth - this technology is already being used by large retail in America - recording people's behaviour and patterns and using that information to change merchandising and increase sales.  And some of us already use the basics of integrated human centric lighting at home, with motion detectors for night lights, and making sure that lights don't get left on when rooms are not in use.  

In the immediate future we can expect to see expansion of the wireless control of lighting through phones and wall mounted wireless switching, which is an exciting option for home renovators as re-cabling for lighting control can get expensive quickly.

In a few years, we can expect our lighting to be fully connected to our environment and our health and wellbeing needs - adjusting colour and brightness to enhance our biological health (assuming that all the currently running research projects in this area prove the current ideas about our bodies and light) and easing our transition through our buildings and communities with lighting that activates when we need it.

The possibilities for sustainable lighting, that enhances life and health are extraordinary - and if mobile phones are anything to go by, we have at least a decade of truly exciting development ahead.

All images via Pinterest