I’m not going to bury the lead for you here (or if you prefer the more arcane journalistic spelling, “lede”): This blog is about top solid-state lighting (SSL) trends and innovations in the context of last week’s Light+Building (L+B) trade fair in Frankfurt. This week, Maury Wright shared some thoughts with our team about what piqued his interest during his trip, which will be making its way to you in the more refined form of a feature article in our upcoming May/June issue. I also made it a point to catch up with the on-demand post-L+B webinar held by our friends at Lux, which you can find in its entirety here. I am not, however, going to catalog all the specific products discussed amongst my colleagues and why they were compelling.
I’m more interested in how the attendees’ experiences and interests coalesced around a central idea: The LED and lighting industry is busily churning out intelligent lighting offerings with intent and innovation driving both luminaire designs and enabling technologies. I don’t just mean smart lighting for smart lighting’s sake, either; there was plenty of thoughtful, deliberate design in architectural, decorative, and area luminaires. As Revo Media founder Gordon Routledge put it, “I was on the look for products and solutions that are probably going to take the industry forward into new areas.”
The IoT and connected lighting certainly resonated throughout the show floor — from the stands of Osram to Philips to even LEDvance (yes, I said “even” because the company is showing itself ready and capable of advancing beyond its established reputation as a lamps provider), IoT lighting end products and control/development platforms were demonstrating the capability of these lighting companies to evolve into technology providers that will support more advanced applications centered around light, Maury noted. Sensing, presence detection, and the ability to use that information over a centralized building management framework that is delivered by the lighting system is becoming more and more refined and the applications enabled by information-gathering light fixtures, said Gordon, “gets us away from commoditized solutions.”
More intelligent SSL fixture design starts with enabling technologies leveraging the flexibility and controllability of LEDs, as evidenced by the dominating presence of LensVector’s liquid-crystal lens technology providing dynamic beam shaping in many light fittings at the show; and Casambi’s wireless control software was ubiquitous as well, according to Lux editor Ray Molony and applications editor John Bullock. Both commented that the uptake of these kinds of technologies by manufacturers demonstrates the desire for solutions that take the end product from just a light-delivery device to a truly customizable SSL offering that addresses many application needs.
Style was not sacrificed to technology during the L+B visit. The Lux team had positive and enthusiastic reactions to the many elegant architectural, decorative, and area luminaires that blended aesthetic details with seamlessness or enhancement in the built environment. It seems to me that the development of advanced materials and light guides, optics, and high-CRI LEDs that were discussed this week pushed the SSL offerings on display to new levels of aesthetic achievement. Luminaires that can be embedded within exterior walls; tracklighting with linear illumination coming from the track as an accent to the individual spotlights; and unique form factors in pendant luminaires were particularly praised. The industry continues to combine creative form with functionality informed by the space in which the SSL fixture will be used.