As LED lighting improves in quality, performance, and cost, manufacturers are developing “intelligent” systems that do more than light buildings. An exhibition by and about Philips at the Boerhaave Museum in the Netherlands features overhead lights that interact with visitors' mobile phones and tablets to deliver display guides.
With quality and performance improving, and cost decreasing by about 18 percent each year, light-emitting diode (LED) technology is well positioned for further adoption by the design community for general lighting. LED lighting's growing popularity is primarily due to its energy efficiency and longevity. However, as digital devices, these light-emitting diodes are inherently compatible with digital lighting control, and manufacturers have begun to develop new solutions with sensors and control intelligence embedded within luminaires or the LED module itself.
This intelligence opens up an array of capabilities that will enable owners to better manage a building's energy consumption, maintenance, and occupant comfort. These include greater design flexibility, automatic setup, integration with non-lighting sensors and controls, and the ability to generate and share information. Additionally, many of these products utilize wireless controls—which facilitates installation, particularly in existing construction—and plug-load controls integrated into lighting-management systems. Following is a sampling of what's new.
Designed for commercial interiors, Cree SmartCast Technology and Philips DuaLED luminaires with SpaceWise Technology feature luminaire-integrated occupancy and daylight sensors using two-way wireless (mesh network) communication, and push-button setup and commissioning via a handheld remote.
Acuity Brands' XPoint and xCella wireless lighting systems operate solo or combine with the company's other control products to create wireless or hybrid wired/wireless systems supported by floor-plan control, monitoring, and analytic software. XPoint is designed for lighting management and building-wide applications; xCella is for self-configuring room-based lighting, HVAC, and plug-load control using battery-free switches and sensors with power-harvesting technology.
Cooper Lighting's LumaWatt platform is designed for roadway, parking garage, and outdoor fixtures, and features integral and/or remote sensors, programming, and power metering. The system also monitors luminaire performance and detects failures.
LED producer Xicato, in collaboration with Eschelon, takes integration a step further by incorporating sensors, diagnostic tools, and the light source into a single module, the XIM.
Sensity's NetSense 2 streetlight platform enables data-intensive video sensing that can be used for security/surveillance, real-time parking availability, traffic reports, and snowfall-depth detection.
Looking ahead, Acuity Brands, GE, and Philips all recently demonstrated LED systems that use visible light to communicate wayfinding, and target sales information by interacting with user smartphones and tablets via special apps. The first use being explored commercially is in big-box retail stores, but there is potential for other applications at, for instance, convention halls and museums. (Philips is currently showcasing this technology at the Boerhaave Museum in the Netherlands.)
The next stage in the LED phenomenon has begun and presents the potential to redefine lighting as we know it.