Smart lighting forms an essential part of the design and development of modern buildings. Moreover, in the last few years, health and wellness have become a major focal point of all workspace designs. From circadian rhythm to personalised settings, lighting designs have become more thoughtful than just functional. Human-centric lighting as it is called is now at the forefront of any design whether it is residential or commercial.
Sumit Joshi, CEO, Signify South Asia said, “Two years after the pandemic completely disrupted the way we worked; several offices have started opening or already opened their offices. Employees have returned to work either full-time or in a hybrid format. Amid all the changes it brought, the pandemic also enhanced the importance of health and well-being in the lives of employees. This has opened key opportunities for organisations to re-evaluate and transform their workplaces, to support the well-being of employees. Lighting can play a major role here, as it has been proven to have a significant impact on the well-being and productivity of occupants in indoor spaces. Office lighting can be designed to mimic natural sunlight to support our body’s natural circadian rhythm. These products are colour tunable and can be adjusted to cool white tones to boost productivity during daytime and warmer white tones in the afternoon or evening time. Furthermore, connected lighting systems such as Interact can also enable employees to personalise their lighting, or even track empty meeting rooms via an app.”
Prag Bhatnagar, Executive Vice President & SBU Head, Havells India Limited was of the view that lighting often gets overlooked as a factor contributing to good mental health and wellbeing at the workplace. “Lighting affects our health. It influences our mood and circadian rhythms. Poor illumination is linked to various physical and mental health problems, including eye strain, headaches and anxiety in high-pressure times. Proper exposure to sunlight has a number of health benefits. Without enough sunlight, levels of serotonin—a mood-enhancing hormone that also helps maintain concentration—can drop during the day. And low serotonin levels are associated with a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Lighting is one of the best ways to enhance the corporate environment. Discovering the equilibrium between white and yellow light, ceiling and task lighting, and knowing where to build clear paths for natural light to effectively illuminate different types of spaces that coexist under one roof are all vital attributes of good office design. In short, a successful light plan must represent and reinforce the corporate image, well-being and efficiency of employees, better energy savings and lighting quality.”
According to Anjan Mukherjee, Territory Head, Commercial Business, Lutron India, “Light control of artificial & natural lights can help create more comfortable, welcoming and engaging workplaces. It can enhance health, well-being and productivity for building occupants. For property owners and employers, lighting control can help attract and retain tenants and employees. It can also support sustainability by reducing energy consumption and maximising access to daylight and window views, which in turn helps to meet WELL and LEED standards.”
Yogendra Joshi, Head Marketing and Business Development, ENDO Lighting added further, “In workspace it's a lot more than just colour of light since it encompasses People, Space, Place and time. Our bodies are designed to respond to light, with natural processes automatically responding to the lighting stimulus we’re exposed to. The circadian rhythm – or sleep/wake cycle – relies on periods of light and darkness to regulate itself. That’s why getting up early on a bright summer’s day can feel easier than waking up on a dark winter’s morning. The objective of good Lighting design should not only elevate the aesthetics of a space but to make it more productive and decisive by giving SMART FIT Colour-tunable fixtures which mimic the natural cycle.”
Srinivas Shanbhogue, Vice President, Home and Distribution, Schneider Electric, India shared, “In the rapidly growing world where extrinsic factors such as aesthetics and design take centre stage in commercial workspaces, lighting is often kept on the backburner. However, the role of lighting is vital when one has to consider the functionality of the space that is being worked up and the type of activities that one has to execute on a day-to-day basis that would efficiently blend in with the individual’s needs. When discussing lighting in the workplace, functionality must be at the forefront because it will determine how the available space in the workplace must be used. This means if it would serve as a workstation, a cafeteria, or even a reception. For the main workstation, task lighting is often the first choice due to its capacity to provide maximum comfort, improve focus, and not affect the eyes. Some of the many examples include a desk lamp with dimmers that help the individual control the intensity and flow of light, bringing functionality and style at the same time. On the other hand, ambient lighting is another example of uniformly distributing illumination throughout the workplace.”
POST COVID LIGHTING TRENDS
The pandemic has changed our thinking about what offices should be and will be in the post-pandemic future, greater flexibility in layout and with that easy reconfiguring of lighting systems as well as allowing individuals to control their own working environment lighting are just some of the new demands.
Talking about the post Covid trends, Anjan Mukherjee stated, “Work-from-home or home-office practice had never been so common since the outbreak of COVID. Any new lighting systems and technologies must be able to cope with this trend and enable employees to move seamlessly between home-offices and real-offices. In other words, a good lighting system should create a more comfortable and productive residential or commercial environment. This will include personalised lighting control to allow people to fine tune their space to suit their individual styles and tasks. Besides, it has been proven that access to natural light and outdoor views are important for a desirable workplace environment. So, an integrated lighting control system which can combine the control of both motorised shades and artificial lighting is essential to harvest daylight, promote views and control sun glare. The system should allow the adjustment of electric lighting throughout the day to complement the incoming daylight to maintain a comfortable and productive environment both at home and at the workplace. Another post-covid trend is increasing concern about personal hygiene. People now care much about hand sanitization and try to avoid touching common surfaces whenever possible. Touchless lighting control can just meet this need by using occupancy sensors or time-scheduling to realise automatic control of lighting or motorised shades. Another option is to use a mobile app or a remote controller to avoid touching on common surfaces. Lutron’s app-based, digital and wireless lighting and shade control systems are ready to keep up with such post covid consumer demands."
Srinivas Shanbhogue expressed, “As we continue to adapt to the post COVID world, the needs of consumers have progressed to a more digital path in the lighting sector. This path to digitalization has resulted in home automation systems becoming a mainstream technological advancement where consumers can experience the best-in-class products through their phones and voice controls. Smart lighting comes into play under the home automation range where individuals can experience comfort and energy efficiency at the same time. Consumers can schedule their lights through apps on their phones with an interface built to meet the consumer’s needs. Smart voice controls, such as Google Assistant or Alexa, are also a major feature that would contribute to smart lighting. By avoiding minor accidents in dark rooms when reaching out for switches, smart lighting allows the consumer to arrive home with a welcoming glow after work. One can simply use the voice commands available on their phones and schedule features to initiate lighting from any remote region. To add to the consumer’s comfort, smart lights also help with larger goals by saving energy. Furthermore, by using products such as smart bulbs, consumers can take control over the brightness, colour temperature, and hues, thereby controlling the intensity of the smart bulb.”
Sumit Joshi added, “Overall, the solution lies in using technology to make smarter choices about the usage of shared spaces to maintain social distance and minimising the risk of infection. Organisations can also use UV-C lighting systems to disinfect the circulated air or frequently touched surfaces in a building. UV-C lighting is a proven and effective way to neutralise pathogens in air, water and surfaces. By integrating UV-C lighting in the HVAC system of a building, the circulated air can be continuously disinfected to create a healthier indoor environment. At the back of these advancements in the lighting industry, there is a favourable business growth momentum in the country and the same is expected to continue in the coming quarters. The increasing focus on energy efficiency and sustainability has steered the growth of LED based lighting in the country.”
TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS IN LIGHTING PRODUCTS
Contactless lighting products are already gaining a lot of traction with Indian consumers. Network Powered Lighting Controllers configure and remember lighting specifications and with interfaces being accessible on mobiles, tablets, and computers, the same specifications can be modified by the users as per their preferences. IoT enabled lighting helps create an overall smarter building with virtually unlimited capabilities. In fact, human-centric lighting becomes most effectively implemented with IoT compatible lighting.
Next in line is the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning in contactless lighting control that will enable the controllers to remember and learn from user behaviours and then provide real-time customization.
Prag Bhatnagar sharing his perspective said, “The world of lighting is seeing numerous solutions that businesses are opting for due to benefits such as better energy management, sustainability cost savings and higher performance. Some advancements are mentioned below. Smart lighting is an advancement in illumination that contains four features-energy-efficient LED drivers, miniaturised digital lighting sensors, advanced control algorithms and standardised communication interfaces that together cooperates and interacts with the lighting network. Power over Ethernet (PoE) that uses the Network cable to light LED fixtures. Furthermore, the connected lightning transmits data between the luminaries to collect real-time insights into critical information such as LED health status, operational effectiveness, and latent problems for interoperability and leveraging IoT.”
Yogendra Joshi added, “Globally lighting companies having in-house R&D Labs have been at the forefront of developing new technologies like Wi-Fi SMART FIT Color tunable solutions which offer flexibility of 121 Colour tuning giving 12000K CCT Skylight effect apart from additional features like time scheduling, giving Individual controls adhering to WELL guidelines of high Vertical illumination at lower LPD. (Light power density).”
Srinivas Shanbhogue added, “While the lighting products industry is rapidly growing, there are a couple of limitations that must be addressed and solutions must be brought to the forefront. With bulbs and bright lights burning for a minimum of 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, the lighting energy consumed contributes to a major cost for both retailers and consumers.. By opting for LED fittings or using technology that would make your homes smarter, customers could experience an easier path to maintenance.”
CHALLENGES LIGHTING PRODUCTS INDUSTRY IS FACING
From high initial costs, lack of consumer awareness and low-quality raw materials to challenges of connectivity, interoperability and data security, these are just some of the challenges facing the lighting manufacturers. Lighting industry on its part is investing in R&D, and manufacturing new technologies and components in India for various applications.
As Anjan Mukherjee rightly points out, “The challenges facing the lighting industry are similar to those faced by other industries including sluggish economy, limited commercial activities and project suspension due to the adverse effects of COVID. The whole industry has to come up with solutions to meet changing needs and turn these challenges into opportunities. Lutron has been investing a lot in R&D to develop solutions with easy integration, high flexibility and compatibility to tackle such challenges and ride on the IoT trend.”
Yogendra Joshi expressed. “LED Lighting Technology has undergone rapid technological changes and particularly the Indian Lighting brands should invest more in R & D base to churn performance driven solutions while Government should tighten quality parameters at-least for Commercial & Industrial Space."
Sumit Joshi shared his concern about the recent hike in GST on LED lamps from 12% to 18%, which will result in a price hike of LED lighting products, consequently leading to slower consumer adoption. “This also means that the price gap between efficient LED lamps and inefficient GLS lamps will widen for lower income groups of the population and will delay the transition to more efficient lighting. The industry has already been negatively impacted by the global shortage of semiconductor components in the last few quarters, which resulted in an upward movement in prices of LED products. This recent increase will have a further blow on the consumers,” he added.
THE FUTURE OF THE SMART LIGHTING MARKET
The future of the smart lighting market looks promising with opportunities in both the residential and commercial sectors. Wireless, voice-controlled, and centralised smart lighting systems eliminate complexities and reduce installation costs of dedicated control wiring. In addition, modular smart switch systems with built-in dimmers, timers, motion sensors, and usage monitoring offer easy integration with mobile applications and voice commands. Aspects, like gesture control and application-based LED control are coming up too.
However, a big challenge that remains in India is the problem with bandwidth constraints. The seamless Wi-Fi connectivity is necessary for smart connected lighting. The incorporation of faster speed with 5G and up scaling existing bandwidths requires further work. Interoperability too has become a “must have” for smart building success. Technologies must be able to “talk” to each other to provide a seamless, scalable solution that can be built upon in the future.
The pandemic has changed the nature of building usage and in this paradigm shift, the role of lighting has also evolved to fully-integrated lighting control systems that can deliver flexibly programmed light levels, colour temperature and spectral changes, and other light characteristics that can positively impact human physiology and wellbeing.
And thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, very soon manufacturers will be able to design lighting control technology that can read behavioural cues within rooms and adjust accordingly on its own. Versatility, energy efficiency, and accessibility are at the forefront of lighting technology innovation in India and recent technological advancements paired with growing affordability have made smart lighting the future.
TRENDS TO WATCH OUT
Lighting as Service (LaaS) - Lighting as a service is an all-inclusive subscription based pricing model geared at making LED lighting a potential option for any business owner. This pay as you go model does not require any high upfront payment and instead breaks these costs out over time making it a much more affordable option. The LaaS provider doesn't transfer the ownership of a product but maintains the ownership of the equipment throughout the duration of the subscription contract. This makes it an environmentally friendly business approach, specifically in retrofitting buildings and outdoor facilities, with the prior aim of reducing installation costs.
Light Fidelity (LiFi) - 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. Li- Fi is a wireless communication technology which utilises light to transmit data and position between devices. 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.
Lighting for Indoor Farming - Alternative farming practices such as vertical and indoor farming that utilises less energy, water and land than traditional farming methods are being explored. Artificial LED lights in horticulture can supplement natural daylight and provide just the right amount of light to the plant radiating less heat than conventional lighting, which increases yields in dark months of the year. Besides, providing the right heat-light balance to improve the propagation of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, herbs, and floriculture crops in a climate-controlled environment, from the business perspective, LED grow lights are cost effective since they consume less power, generate less heat, and require less maintenance.
THE INCREASING FOCUS ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY HAS STEERED THE GROWTH OF LED BASED LIGHTING IN THE COUNTRY.
HUMAN-CENTRIC LIGHTING IS NOT JUST DESIGNED TO LOOK BEAUTIFUL AND PROVIDE ENOUGH LIGHT TO SEE BUT, IT’S ABOUT HAVING THE RIGHT LIGHT THAT WILL SUPPORT BODY’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING FUNCTIONS.
LIGHTING IS ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO ENHANCE THE CORPORATE ENVIRONMENT.
WFH PRACTICE HAD NEVER BEEN SO COMMON SINCE THE OUTBREAK OF COVID. ANY NEW LIGHTING SYSTEMS MUST BE ABLE TO COPE WITH THIS TREND.
INDIAN LIGHTING BRANDS SHOULD INVEST MORE IN R&D BASE TO CHURN PERFORMANCE DRIVEN SOLUTIONS.
RESEARCH HAS SHOWN ADEQUATE EVIDENCE THAT EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING IN WORKPLACES CAN BE IMPROVED BY PROVIDING LIGHTING THAT IS IDENTICAL TO NATURAL DAYLIGHT AND BY PROVIDING THE NEEDED LEVELS OF ILLUMINATION FOR VISUAL ACCURACY.