Driving human-centric lighting to market: It has to be easy (MAGAZINE)

Feb. 20, 2019
Most connected SSL is complicated to install and use; when you layer on the complexity of human-centric principles, it’s even harder. The LED and SSL sectors have to fix that. And perhaps it’s beginning to happen.

That Nest thermostat for residential homes sure is popular. It’s winning market share despite being significantly more expensive than most of the programmable thermostat competition. Why is that? I’m no expert, but it must be because it’s easy to use. If you don’t want to figure out how to program it, you can simply use it like a manual thermostat, and it will learn your preferences.

How does that relate to lighting for health and wellbeing, or human-centric lighting, today? Well, most connected solid-state lighting (SSL) is complicated to install and use; when you layer on the complexity of human-centric principles, it’s even harder. The LED and SSL sectors have to fix that. And perhaps it’s beginning to happen.

For businesses, investing in your employees should be a guiding principle. And if you can boost wellbeing through LED-based lighting with tunable spectral power distribution (SPD), then you should do so. Business owners that make such investments may even see a boost in productivity. It would be nice if such systems for commercial spaces were simple. But businesses are accustomed to the cost and complexity of controls for lighting and other building systems. The premium cost of the tunable light driven by a more complex driver and multiple LED channels is a bigger issue than complexity of use for businesses.

In this issue, we have a short piece covering a recent human-centric lighting project at the Delos headquarters. It’s not surprising that Delos would invest in such lighting given that it was the original driving force behind the WELL program. And the new company headquarters has earned WELL Platinum recognition.

Still, we need ease for consumers. Delos itself has moved to address that market. At the recent CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) tradeshow in Las Vegas, Delos announced the Darwin system that it describes as a Wellness Intelligence Network. It’s a system that covers circadian lighting along with air filtration, water purification, and other comfort features. But it’s too complicated. Darwin mainly targets new construction and installation and commissioning by the builder or a contractor. Prices start at $3500.

CES did serve as a venue for some new connected lamp products that have a decidedly human-centric focus, are relatively simple to use, are relatively inexpensive, and come from trusted names. The easy-to-use angle is centered on voice-based controls and the growing popularity of connected home hubs such as the Google and Amazon products, which oh, by the way, talk to your Nest thermostat.

Signify added products to its Philips Hue portfolio. Among the new features are the voice controls that will allow you to simply tell the lights to shift to a warmer spectrum and gradually dim at night.

GE Lighting also added to its C by GE portfolio at CES. The C-Sleep products come capable of autonomous human-centric operation based on time of day. And all of the products can respond to voice commands.

Now the connected home hub sector isn’t perfect. The major players have all had some privacy issues, essentially capturing everything said and every sound made inside a home 24 hours a day. But these products and the benefits they offer aren’t going away. Let’s hope the technologists can get the privacy right. And hopefully we will see more compatible SSL products with even more tunable capabilities.

Maury Wright,
[email protected]

About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.