If you said the words “smart lighting” ten years ago, you’d probably be met with a blank stare or a look of pity for your clear detachment from reality.
Yes, lighting is “smart” – one of the most important innovations in recent centuries, no doubt – but their ‘smartness’ doesn’t require highlighting in their names, they’d argue.
Fast forward to today, though, and you’d be hard pressed to find a home that doesn’t incorporate some element of ‘smartness’ within it.
Undoubtedly, the ‘smart home’ sprouted from the smart speakers that the likes of Google and Amazon spearheaded in their attempts to weasel their way into every corner of our houses and minds.
But creepy dystopian sentiment aside, the voice-activated nature of the smart speaker quickly opened up opportunities for other branches of technology to evolve alongside it… like a WiFi-fed hive mind.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this technological evolution was, indeed, lighting. But don’t be mistaken; this was no accident and it came after the industry’s own cultural shift.
Let’s explore this path to smart automation, and how lighting became one of its biggest winners.
Making a house a (smart) home
A “smart home” refers to a place of residence with an integrated network of wirelessly communicating appliances. These include heating, TVs, air conditioning, security cameras, and indeed lighting; and they provide the occupier with security, comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency.
They work automatically but can also be operated manually through a smartphone or, indeed, a smart speaker.
Although Big Tech has taken the smart home concept to a new, more accessible level, the concept of a smart home has been in the cultural consciousness for decades.
In the early 1900s, electrical domestic appliances like the washing machine and vacuum cleaner turned time-heavy conjugal chores into light tasks that could be completed within minutes or left to be done automatically throughout an afternoon.
By the late 60s, these appliances were well-established and commercialised, and innovators began looking at how else the home could be automated.
The ECHO IV was a home computer prototype developed by an engineer James Sutherland in 1966 for him and his family. Looking nothing like the smart devices of today which take up the corner of a bedside table, the ECHO IV more closely resembled today’s data server cabinets.
However, it managed to perform some rudimentary tasks such as basic TV control, home temperature control, and alarm clock functions.
Home automation continued to gain popularity by the late 90s and early 00s as WiFi was introduced, and the concept of wireless communication became a reality.
With today’s smart home/speaker integration, it didn’t take long for companies like Philips to see automated lighting as an opportunity that could be harnessed within the smart home.
Ambiance, security, convenience – custom lighting options can bring together a home and make it feel like your own, but the endless possibilities of smart lighting are made true by the versatility of the LED.
LEDs and smart lighting are the perfect match
LEDs were becoming well-established by the time that smart lighting was coming into its own, and were rapidly replacing incandescent and halogen options everywhere.
LED’s popularity is down to its multi-faceted benefits that it provides both the user and the planet.
LEDs boast a lifespan that is magnitudes higher than traditional bulbs, and so consumers no longer had to consider changing and replacing their light bulbs as much as they once did. Put into numbers, LEDs have a 50,000-hour lifespan compared to the 2,000 hours that halogen bulbs live for. Consumers were happy as they were spending less on their lighting fixtures and the planet benefitted from less waste going into landfill.
Another benefit of LEDs is their energy efficiency compared to halogen and incandescent alternatives. Due to their high lumen output per watt, LEDs turn most of their energy into light, making them more efficient than their traditional counterparts that tend to waste most of their energy on creating heating.
The most pertinent advantage that LEDs have regarding smart lighting is their customisability.
Most smart lighting units are a Wi-Fi-enabled fixture that connect to the home router and a mobile phone app, from which you can customise your lighting preferences.
Want to set the atmosphere in a certain room? Use the app to set the brightness of the LED to your liking. Where LEDs go further, however, is their ability to emit every colour under the rainbow, and just the standard warm and cold whites that are the only option on typical light bulbs.
Want to set some romantic ambience in the bedroom? Beyond dimming the lights, you can use the power of LEDs to bathe the room in a more romantic red, pink, or purple light that pleases the eye and affects the brain’s visual centre more intensely.
Want to sit down and watch a horror film on your own but don’t want to be in complete darkness? Set your smart LED lighting to a dim, blood red and really get the heart pumping!
Looking to create a calming corner of your home where you can just sit and read with a relaxing cup of tea? LED smart lighting can make that experience whole with a calm glow of warm yellow light that enhances focus and allows you to really escape.
The smart home is here to stay thanks to developments in technology and accessibility from wireless infrastructure, and with this mainstay comes opportunities anew to create the little corner of the world that we call our home truly ours and, amongst everything else, LEDs offer the opportunity to do just that with their versatile visual properties.
Simply put, there is no smart home without LED smart lighting.
Ready to take the step into the future of lighting? Contact Cube Lighting & Design here to see if you qualify for free LED lighting!
Want to keep reading? Check out our latest blog post here: The lighting industry is experiencing an environmental revolution