The concept of smart lightening has emerged in past few years in the market and its connection and operation with wireless charging could unleash a new residential lighting revolution. The light industry has seen major changes over the past two decades. The lights were introduced as the incandescent light by Edison and now the industry has transitioned to LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs beyond the forces of regulations.
The lightening economics changed with the introduction of LED (Light-emitting diode) and CFLs. LED (Light-emitting diode) are 5 times more energy efficient and last 23 times as long as compared to the old lightening devices or bulbs. As per a study conducted in the USA, households spend around USD 24 billion annually on electrical supplies, with over USD1bn expense is only in light bulb purchases made each year. According to a 2010 DOE study, nearly 6bn residential lights are operating across the US. This resulted in 175TWh of electricity being consumed, accounting for ~13% of all residential electricity consumption. If all 6 billion lights were using a Smart LED (Light-emitting diode) it can result in saving of almost USD 34 billion in annual energy cost. As a result, the LED (Light-emitting diode) lights last longer and use much less energy.
In an interview, David Kavanagh, senior director of consumer products at LIFX, an Australian company known for its line of smart bulbs, said “We’ve always been trying to build the premium light bulb in the market and we have added pieces of tech, such as ambient light sensors, accelerometers, infrared, and additional pieces of technology in our products. The company introduced its infrared-emitting LIFX+ bulbs, which help cameras equipped with night vision see better in the dark, in 2017.” He added “There are interesting things that can happen when you can have sensors in bulbs that traditionally rely on Wi-Fi, cloud, or Bluetooth. If you’ve got things in the bulb that can be running locally, you’ve got the ability to handle some use cases that don’t require those things.”
But the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 globally has somewhere impacted the innovations taking place in the industry. It has impacted both positively and negatively the market. Even after that, it is expected that smart lightening will boom post COVID-19 with a great growth potential.
Due to the spread of coronavirus, the various ongoing projects have to shut down and put on hold immediately. A decline of around 4% has been noticed in the technological budget which has paced down the innovation speed and investments in the new technology developments. There is an exception to this pause on ongoing projects only in the below mentioned two cases:
It has been noticed that the sales of new devices based on smart lightning such as smart bulb, lamps etc. has gone down. Many companies are cautious about procuring new services, starting new projects or buying IoT hardware. Not only smart lightening, but almost all enterprises that are based on IoT are experiencing drying sales pipelines. A business development manager at an online marketplace for enterprise consulting projects in Europe has stated in April that “In the last weeks, we have seen a drop in approx. 50% of new projects being advertised on our portal.”
Not only people are avoiding spending on smart lightning, but companies are restricting their investment on such hardware projects.
In this industry various technology standards are based on exchange and decision-making of a group of experts that are present in person. COVID-19 made it more difficult for these experts to work together, which is resulting in delays of new technology standards. For instance, the release of important technology such as 5G has been postponed due to coronavirus. This has also impacted the advancements that could take place in smart lightning in terms of connectivity and better user experience.
Many players in the market are offering customers free upgrades, services or software in response to coronavirus. As customer-vendor relationship has also been affected, players are working to reach their customers at every cost to maintain the relationship that will be the basis of their future growth. Also many companies of smart lightening are offering free installation in various places where electricity was an issue once upon a time. This they have made a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity. Many industries that are affected directly due to this pandemic are being offered smart light for installation without any charges to promote the technology and product to increase the market share and knowledge about the product.
A survey has been done recently by IoT Analytics that has shown that missing talent and skills is number one problem that every player associated with IoT technology, be it end-user, vendor, or a supplier, faces when implementing in their projects. This challenge has intensified in recent years.
After the outbreak of COVID-19, this problem has taken another jump. But again, there are two different aspects in this. At one hand where many people have lost jobs, so people are ready to work but the labor class which is required for installation, services etc. is not available due to lockdown prevailing.
Undoubtedly coronavirus has created havoc in the world, but it is something that no one can change now. Either enterprises are learning to stay with it or they are striving hard to reduce its impact. Some of the important steps are:
As the dynamics of COVID-19 is changing rapidly along with the inability to visit some physical sites, business transparency has become the need of any enterprise. It is very essential to make a note of employee whereabouts and wellbeing, what are the goods in transit, how is the manufacturing condition, what are the changes customer is expecting after this pandemic in smart lights with minimum touch.
A spike in tool usage has been noticed in the companies from the third quarter of 2020 to operate remotely and connect all the parties through virtual medium. People in smart lights are expecting something that does not require or minimal require human touch and can work on voice recognition or other sensor-based technology, Such requirements are now gathered from virtual connectivity which provide business transparency with better results.
Those business will survive in future that can automate their maximum functioning. Before this pandemic, process automation was considered as one of the biggest enemies of human based jobs. Such as robots, autonomous vehicles and other technologies were threatening to replace them. In this pandemic, many businesses have learnt that the automation can actually save human lives. Similar automation is expected in smart lightning industry that can keep the user safe and protected.
Considering the frequently changing technology and its requirement, the industry is on the verge of a potential future which will operate on wireless electricity. Similar vision was presented by Nikola Tesla in the year 1907. Recently many companies are coming up with projects that indicate that his vision was right. One of the most recent examples of wireless electricity is the qi technology for charging phones. In this, the device can charge phones locally, but this is only for short term. In the long run, there might not be a need for power outlets. As a result, new lighting and electrical features can emerge that will not be dependent on an expensive electrical installation project.
Major factors that are required to imagine a world with wireless power and control of lighting are:
With these factors, the smart lights will be so easy to install that with some basic DIY skills, it will be affix to the fixtures. Also, one additional component, there are many wireless switches that have come to market over the past few years that makes this possible. This shift towards a distributed wireless system is a natural change from the central/connected version of the home that has been the standard. This could have massive advantages in cost and unleash several new products in lightning. Though it is not a very near future but may take a little long as it will be a slow transition to the new wireless world.
Smart lights are expected to create revolutionary impact in the coming years because of multiple factors such as accelerated deployment of LED (Light-emitting diode) drivers, sensors and connected LED (Light-emitting diode) platforms. Along with this many players are in the race to connect smart LED (Light-emitting diode) luminaries with the same infrastructure of the IoT. This trend is noticed mainly across home and professional applications for both indoor and outdoor enviornments. In future, this trend will spread to other applications as well. As these devices and systems will require either wired or wireless connectivity with internet, manufacturers needs to focus on their product adaptability to lightining market tendencies especially when it combined with IoT ecosystem and advanced lightining control system.