It used to be that you flick a switch and you have light, or you flick it again and you have darkness, but the future looks set to expand our range of lighting choices to enable us to adapt our lighting depending on the situation. As we become more illuminated on how light actually works and affects us, technology begins to become more advanced and allows us to do things otherwise not possible. We take a look at some of the exciting future trends in lighting.
Increased Energy Efficiency
With environmental issues becoming more of a concern, energy efficiency is now a high priority in many industries, particularly in electricals and lighting. Currently, 20% of the world’s electricity is used for lighting; it is predicted that this could be reduced to 4% with LED lighting.
More powerful and energy-efficient lighting will be a focus in the coming year. However, customers are demanding more value for their money than ever before making ££/lumen a future priority.
Lighting will become IoT enabled
IoT stands for “Internet of Things” and basically encompasses everything connected to the internet (believe it or not). More recently it has become an umbrella term to describe everyday objects that “talk” to each other. Things such as smart home heating systems, smart fridges and similar devices, everything from simple sensors to smartphones and wearables can be considered an IoT device.
Many LED lighting fixtures are predicted to become IoT enabled. This is already a fairly common fixture in many homes, but this is set to expand to encompass a wider array of features. Users will be able to turn on, turn up, dim, change the colour and turn off lights remotely using an app, whether they’re at home or away. Some homes do already feature this, but it will become a standard feature for most homes in the not too distant future.
This is a new and expanding field, the science behind how light affects the brain and body. When light enters our eyes it travels through two separate pathways. Scientists have known about one of these visual pathways for some time, the visual pathway that connects the retina to the visual cortex that helps us to perceive the world around us.
More recent studies have helped us understand that light also travels through another set of photoreceptors called intrinsically photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGCs) which contribute to the biological pathway responsible for sending signals to our biological clock. When the biological clock receives information about light in the environment, it triggers melatonin secretion, hormone production, digestion, increased or decreased muscle strength, core body temperature regulation and immune response – our biological clock helps regulate so many of our body’s natural processes.
This is due to the way organic life has evolved on earth around the sun. For millions of years we were exposed to a pattern of sunlight throughout the day, gradually decreasing until the moon and stars were the only light sources.
We know the discovery of fire dates back millennia, but it wasn’t until the 1880s when electric lighting was discovered that we began to stray from our natural circadian clock. We now spend more time indoors than ever before, it is estimated that humans spend around 90% of our time indoors. The internet brought even more reasons not to leave the house than ever before, with instant information, TV and video available at our fingertips. Many of our regularly used devices such as phones and laptops emit blue light, which studies have shown that although it is not inherently damaging for our retinas, it does disrupt our bodies natural rhythms.
There is more energy per photon in the visible blue light spectrum (between 400 and 45 nanometres) than other colours in the visible spectrum. High energy visible light is necessary to everyday life, as it’s emitted in large quantities by the sun. In the morning, this high energy light wakes us up by hitting our eye and releasing enzymes, which bring melatonin levels down and help wake us up. A consistent cycle of rest and wake, regulated by melatonin, comprises our circadian rhythm.
When you fly to another country and experience jet lag or stay up too late, your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted causing you to feel terrible. Exposure to blue light before bed causes a similar effect on the body; since it lowers the rate at which enzymes release melatonin. Too little melatonin, too late, can prevent sleep and cause us to feel exhausted.
It’s a public health issue which isn’t being addressed as seriously as it should, devices which emit blue light have not been around very long, therefore the long term effects of these devices are largely unknown and many of the health risks associated with them may be yet to be realised. Some devices feature things such as “night mode” and “anti-blue light” lenses on spectacles have recently become common, however, there is still a bit of a time lag and the tech industry has been slow to adapt to this new information. As further studies are done on the effects, more pressure will be put on tech firms to do more to limit health effects.
It is likely that with motion-sensing technology showing up more frequently, we will see this becoming a more widespread feature, with things like motion detection lighting turning lights on and off when you enter or leave a room to help conserve energy. The lighting of the future will be able to assess our mood and the number of people in a room, we will be able to change the lighting in most rooms depending on what we need it for.
The new Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ already incorporates mood lighting in its cabin, the lighting alternates between a warm white and a soft lavender colour in order to counter jet lag.
Since we know that lighting affects our mood, we may start to see businesses adopting this in an effort to drive sales. Research has shown that lighting in the retail sector can make us more likely to buy products. For example, according to Dutch Lighting Fabricator Philips, it is best to use lights with a reddish tinge for meats, cool white light for fresh fish and cheese and bread benefit from a yellow hue.
Dynamic lighting has also been shown to enhance productivity. In the workplace, lighting that mimics natural lighting by producing a bright white hue in the morning and getting gradually warmer as the day goes on has reported positive benefits on mood and productivity. Lighting that identifies outside brightness and adapts to mimic this may become a common feature in many workplaces. Human Centric Lighting hopes to regulate the amount of blue light we receive throughout the day, making lighting adaptable to avoid disrupting our natural circadian rhythms. This technology can also prove to be invaluable in education, healthcare and even for keeping astronauts happy in space.
Interlink Lighting & Electrical: Illuminating The Way For Commercial, Domestic & Retail Lighting
We always aim to stay on top of the current lighting trends, looking for ways to implement the latest exciting lighting tech into the business and home environment. As SELECT and NICEIC approved engineers, we can take care of all your electrical needs. Whether it’s lighting solutions, safety checks or electrical maintenance services you need, we offer an unrivalled service for domestic, commercial and retail clients in Glasgow and beyond. Get in touch with us today if you would like to learn more about our services.