Here are a few trends and themes that ran through the LEDs and the SSL Ecosystem 2013 conference in Boston.
A number of speakers touched on the uses of light to support or enhance human happiness and well being, but none brought it home perhaps as powerfully as Lori Brock, director of research and innovation at Osram Sylvania's corporate technology laboratory. She put up the usual sort of slide pointing out that lighting is the largest contributor to office electricity costs.
But this was followed by the chart shown here, in which it is revealed that of total costs to run an office, lighting is 0.2 percent and electricity is another 0.7 percent. (The chart is from the 2011 IES Handbook.) The overwhelmingly dominant cost is salaries: that is, people. If LED lighting can manage to effect a 5 percent increase in focus and productivity, the cost savings will dwarf the contribution of energy savings from SSL.
Tunable consumer lighting
As we mentioned yesterday, a lot of focus at the conference was put on lighting controls, and the kind of metadata boost that controls and sensors can bring to SSL. Cory Egan of Ilumi Solutions spoke about that company's upcoming launch of a Philips hue-like system of controllable lighting for residential applications. Ilumi began working on their solution about two years ago, Egan told me in an interview -- probably around the same time that teams started thinking about Lifx and Hue.
Ilumi settled on Bluetooth low-energy as a medium in which to control luminaires. Without a bridge (as hue uses) or a ready-made control language like ZigBee, Ilumi had to define and implement both a peer-to-peer mesh network and a lighting control protocol running over Bluetooth. Technically impressive, but I remain unsure what it gained them. Egan told me they intend to introduce an open API on which others can write applications for the devices. They hope to begin shipping 800-lm A19 and 1150-lm PAR30 lamps in December.
Kevin Leadford, VP of innovation at Acuity Brands, spoke about the metrics we use today to characterize lighting and how far they fall short of reflecting the attributes of light that we actually value. We have discussed the deficiencies of CCT and CRI to capture all that is important about light even from a spectral point of view, but Leadford went much farther, to outline the metrics problem from the perspective of human-centric lighting.
How well do our metrics encapsulate visibility, safety, security, ambience, or visual appeal? Not in the slightest. Leadford recommended the work of Dr. Mark Rae at Rensselaer's Lighting Research Center on value-based metrics. (Perhaps this research is new enough that Google has not spidered it yet, but I cannot find any links for the above.) When asked how close any significant improvements are to realization in accepted lighting standards, Leadford said, "I'm counting on hope at this point."
One session featured three brand-name lighting designers talking about their relationship with SSL. Here are some choice quotes.
Steve Rosen, principal of Available Light in Boston (the firm that designed the New England Aquarium) commented, "It's rare that I'm using a halogen in a museum." He also called for the emergence of a class of "LED sommeliers" in design firms who can put together an emitter, driver, dimmer, etc., and have a workable system out of the gate.
Ann Reo, general manager of IO Lighting, a division of Cooper Lighting, had the following to say on whether or not LED-based lighting was now up to the challenge of wide deployment in retail settings: "We started out doing Chanel and Prada... now we're doing Macys."
Paul Ehlert, an independent lighting designer now living in Austria, noted the importance of maintenance in the planning for lighting projects: "It is essential to take care of the design after it's commissioned and implemented." Else a highly visible project, with the designer's name prominently associated with it, can deteriorate and fall out of tune with the original vision.
All in all the LEDs Conference 2013 was a most worthwhile endeavor, and I am glad it was held in Boston this year.
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting