Lighting that can be tuned for health, wellness, mood, and productivity gains could account for 7 percent of Europe's lighting market by 2020. But that future is no sure thing.
It's called human-centric lighting (HCL). We have touched the edges of the subject when discussing LED lights used for medical purposes, and also the perspective of scotobiology. But HCL is broader still, encompassing also the use of tunable lighting to enhance alertness and performance, elevate mood, harmonize with sleep/wake cycles, and overall to promote human well-being. The elevator speech is that HCL can help to meet our visual, biological, and emotional needs.
A new study by LightingEurope, ZVEI the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association, and the consulting firm A.T. Kearney projects that by the year 2020 HCL could represent a €1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) opportunity across Europe, accounting for 7 percent of the lighting market there.
The benefits of HCL have been firmly established in the scientific literature, according to the report, in the time since the third human photoreceptor was discovered 12 years ago. But HCL so far has little mindshare among politicians and the general public. The report cites this gap as among the largest uncertainties as to how the market for HCL will grow.
HCL has benefits for society at large, beyond the improvements in the lives of people enjoying it. When we sleep better and are better rested, our productivity goes up and our businesses make more profit. We have fewer accidents, helping to keep medical costs in check. HCL has been shown to speed healing in some circumstances, and it could slow or reverse some trends in the advance of chronic diseases such as cancer.
LEDs to dominate
Currently most of the HCL in use, mostly in healthcare settings, workplaces, and schools, is based on fluorescent lighting. The study predicts that by 2020, over 90 percent will be LED-based. The crossover will occur because LEDs permit the independent control of light on the three dimensions that are central to HCL: illuminance level, color temperature, and direction.
The figure shows the growth of HCL in Europe based on conservative assumptions. (The researchers also modeled a pessimistic and an optimistic scenario, but they consider these less likely.) Residential use represents 45 percent of the market value of HCL, though only 2 percent of residential floor space is under HCL by 2020, according to the model. Healthcare, with a far smaller physical footprint, has 20 percent penetration of HCL but only a small fraction of the market.
The researchers sketch out regional variations in HCL adoption across Europe. The Scandinavian countries are expected to embrace the development, both because those societies are relatively friendly to social experimentation and because the long winters force people to spend more time indoors under artificial light. Southern countries such as Italy, enjoying ample sunlight, are expected to be slower to embrace HCL.
The study opines that European industry is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the growth of HCL, presumably as compared to US or Asian companies, because of a claimed "solution-oriented understanding of customer requirements." Do you think that's a fair assessment?
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting