Smart lighting, by and for the individual

Friday, 26 April, 2019

Today's society is advancing at a dizzying pace towards more complex but also more habitable environments thanks to services driven by the new technologies.

Currently, the transformation of lighting technology by incorporating electronic LED light sources along with the inclusion of communication and data processing are fundamental when the time comes to provide quality and environmentally sustainable services that are designed to meet the needs of the individual.

The aim is simple: to not only provide a more efficient lighting from the standpoint of energy, the environment and operations, but also to do so more intelligently, taking better account of the changing needs of the individual and the impact that light has on the human being, their health and behaviour.

This latter concept has been called Human Centric Lighting.

As such, what we call smart lighting is the technological medium that allows us to achieve this lighting designed with people in mind.

This involves providing the market with tools that can help industry evolve from a predominantly quantitative approach to light, which measures luminance, efficiency, consumption, service life, maintenance costs etc., towards another, qualitative focus, which takes into account the quality and suitability of the light that is provided at any time and in any place.

Recent scientific studies demonstrate how sensitive the metabolism of living creatures is and, as such, that of the human being to outdoor light as well as how this is regulated through key features such as sleep-wake cycles with the secretion of hormones linked to photoreceptors located in the eyes. 

This is represented in the so-called circadian rhythms.

As such, the purpose of lighting should be that of providing conditions that are the closest to those that occur in nature by means of natural light, under which the human being and all other living organisms have evolved over tens of thousands of years.

And from a more pragmatic point of view, we can also apply these tools to improving the performance of individuals under certain circumstances, for example in those jobs which demand a high level of concentration. Or by promoting and increasing comfort and well-being in other situations such as hospital environments with convalescing patients, where rest and peace of mind leads to a faster recovery.

We can similarly apply these concepts outside the home or workplace in outdoor environments in the form of street lighting.

In this case, smart street lighting would be the way of providing municipal managers with decision-making tools for infrastructure management, designed to improve both the energy and operational efficiency of the service while prioritising the quality required. In other words, providing the appropriate amount of light, in the most suitable way, wherever and whenever it is needed. This means adapting the lighting offer to a changing demand.

In both cases, the key concepts that define this new smart lighting are:

→ Lighting fixtures with high levels of performance and durability.

→ Easily controllable light

→ Connectivity and sensors incorporated into the lighting fixtures

→ Data exchange and processing

→ User application and interface

For this, smart lighting fixtures must be equipped with highly reliable and efficient, programmable LED drivers, which can be remotely programmed and configured thanks to the incorporation of preferably wireless connectivity, using standard and interoperable protocols, such as Bluetooth Low Energy for indoor environments. Such protocols connect the lighting fixtures on the grid with each other and with the system operator, whether directly to their user interface (via a Smartphone app), or through a device concentrator (Gateway) by means of the cloud-based global mobile telephone network and from there, by Internet to any remote user authorised to control the installation.

And it must be remembered that data is acquiring a fundamental value. It is therefore vital that systems are in place that can acquire, transfer and process this data in the best way possible.

All these factors together are driving a change in the business and operating model of lighting infrastructures and installations towards a services-orientated model.

In short, we are moving towards a concept of society in which the lighting fixture is a services node. One such service, and perhaps the most fundamental, is street lighting, however it is not the only one and we have to be prepared for every innovation that street lighting can bring us today and also what it will be able to offer us tomorrow.

 

Arturo Rubio

Business Development Manager – ELT Smart Systems Division

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