Beatrice Witzgall, Founder
LumiFi &I3D, Inc.
Smart lighting has become one of the latest buzzwords following the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smarthome technology as new devices and apps are simplifying everyday tasks and changing the way we live. Though much has been written about the latter two, adoption of smarthome solutions has yet to really catch on in the mass market.
In the lighting world specifically, the average consumer does not know how to setup light scenes within a space, or how specific color temperatures affect their emotions and human biology. There are a few notable companies within the consumer smarthome industry, such as Smartthings or Quirky Wink, which try to solve connectivity issues between various devices and protocols. Their success matrix is driven by the number of devices they onboard onto their platforms. Meanwhile, the consumer is expected to take that generic tool and set up the rest on their own, leaving most end users overwhelmed by the complicated, technical and time-consuming process required to truly maximize the capabilities of the technology.
In contrast, within the commercial space, there are experts who handle the system configurations, as well as professional lighting designers, who compose and master this combination between art and science.
On the other end of the spectrum, companies are now identifying specific problems and examining user cases and experiences so that they can solve these issues with new technology. By creating standalone systems that do not connect into the larger universe, companies can independently control these experiences. The issue is that these systems are too narrowly focused and do not work across multiple devices, protocols and hardware from various manufacturers.
Big lighting manufacturers, such as Philips or Osram as well as tech startups such as LIFX, Ilumi and others, are offering their own free lighting apps bundled together with their hardware. Their business models are typically driven by hardware sales and the quality and value of their individual apps vary greatly. Some companies proudly develop their own stylized interface, but many still consider standalone systems a must have and spend little time on creating an actual experience with the design aspect of it falling outside their expertise.
The variety of bulb types, each with different form, factors, qualities and price points that allow users to suitably outfit their space, is yet another problem with these standalone systems. Many manufacturers do not offer the variety of options needed. Interoperability between manufacturers using different wireless protocols is vital for success, yet the focus is on making individual standalone systems work because very few companies have the resources needed to consider a more comprehensive platform approach.
Where does that leave us? We currently have two different approaches that each solve a different problem, but if they dont come together then we do not actually have a working solution. Mass adoption will never pick up if we lack interconnectivity between software and hardware manufacturers and the incorporation of lighting know-how into the experience.
We also need to closely examine the value smart lighting brings. This is where the value creation in IoT enabled lighting takes place in creating an experience that enhances people’s lifestyle and overall well-being. Having a smartphone remote for your lighting is not a big enough problem to be worthwhile in solving; however, as soon as you look beyond basic utilitarian lighting and want to create an atmosphere that adapts to your needs and activities, consumers will demand technology that composes various lights into meaningful light scenes.
Connected lighting has the potential to be a one-button solution at your fingertips that incorporates new features and lighting dynamics for a fraction of the price of a legacy lighting control system. Additionally, the power of lighting does not only lay within emotional and spatial aspects, but also affects your health, biological and circadian rhythms. All these aspects and value creation layers require a lot of trained expertise. The power of software is that we can translate this expertise into algorithms and behavioral learning mechanisms to automate and adapt to the users needs.
For example, when I step out of my buildings elevator into my apartment my presence is automatically recognized and the lights turn to my preferred lighting mood before I enter my dark home alleviating the struggle of looking for a light switch while carrying my bags. Smart lighting could also anticipate my arrival after coming home full of energy from a visit to the gym with lights turning bright, or coming home after late nights in the office and just wanting to find my bed in a dimmer light setting. LumiFi, a smart lighting software, is an example of a company that developed patents for these learning algorithms on how to offer these thoughtful solutions to users.
IoT enabled lighting is a complex matter and there has yet to be an ideal solution that pulls all the different aspects together, ranging from hardware to ecosystem connectivity to user experiences and lighting know-how. Until then, adoption will remain among the tech savvy early users and not create the desired wider impact of how smart lighting can transform our lives.
About Beatrice Witzgall
Beatrice Witzgall is an award winning lighting designer and architect with more than 20 years of experience on countless hospitality, residential, commercial, institutional and superyacht projects. In 2007, she founded I3D, Inc. allowing her to blend her architectural and lighting expertise to create visual designs. In 2014, she founded LumiFi, launching a smart lighting platform that incorporates lighting intelligence into new software. Her patent pending algorithm marries lighting controls with the Internet of Things by analyzing the parameters for each light and assigning different attributes to create automatic, meaningful lighting experiences.
For more information visitwww.lumifi.com