What do you think? This is another attempt to pull together an understanding of the transition taking place from the Traditional Lighting industry (the Past), to the Smart Lighting industry (the Present) to the Intelligent Lighting industry (the Future).
As an unabashed sports nut (oh no, the Boston Red Sox win again, more than the NY Yankees in the last 15 years…4 vs. 1…this has to change but I digress), let me ask, is there any business more traditional than baseball? Much like the lighting business, I might add. For over 100 years, both adamant traditional businesses changed very reluctantly. Three traditional umpires confirmed who is in charge:
• I call ’em like I see ’em
• I call ’em like they are
• They ain’t nothin’ til I make the call!
Well, times they are a changin and the cause is technology. We now live in the high-tech electronic world. Any heretofore final call can now be challenged and reviewed in slow, very slow motion in NYC, of all places, far away from the actual game. Now the umpire’s not-so-final call is outsourced using video technology-based analytics. How did that happen? Well, technology gives this very traditional business the ability to get it right. That’s what happened. Took baseball a little longer than most to get there but there they are and they are not going back to the good ole days. (The National League will get the designated hitter, too.)
I sincerely believe that the traditional lighting industry has always wanted to get it right. Quality of light, energy efficiency and long life have been the focus over my lifetime……and to get it right. We are an industry made up of independent companies, yet very interdependent. On the manufacturing side: luminaire, lamp, ballast, controls, accessories companies are interdependent; on the supply chain side: agents, specifiers, designers, contractors, distributors, utilities are all interdependent to bring the best lighting systems to market. They have to work together…..we call that cooperative innovation. And it produced a thriving bright industry (sorry about that) that experienced many sustainable innovations (a continuous replacement of the old products to the new better products) that improved Edison’s incandescent light bulb over its history. That’s the Past…we should be proud.
I contend that we are now in the Smart Lighting business, the Present. Just like the changes taking place in baseball, lighting is in a transition to get it right and it is SSL technology that’s driving the bus. It’s still all about quality of light but for the first time since the Edison bulb, it’s disruptive innovation (a discontinuous market shift from the few to the many). Think about it: every single light source commercially available will be replaced with a SSL system and we are talking about a $300+ billion USA installed base. Not to worry, getting it right is hard and it will take time but the stars are aligned – SSL is here to stay. The Smart Lighting industry is now, the present, allowing us to manipulate the timing / intensity / tuning of light leading to tracking / reacting / adapting to the users’ living and working patterns. Lighting will always be concerned about quality of light, but energy efficiency and long life are off the table. We have the latter with the new technologies. So let’s focus on quality of light and the application of light by getting it right…for office lighting, healthcare, horticulture, retail, industrial, hospitality, sports, education, outdoor, on and on and on…
Now let’s look at the Future: the Intelligent Lighting industry…..IT CAN THINK! Lighting has the potential to be the core connector to every device you own. Who first said “lighting is not just about illumination anymore”. (I think it was my hero Chris Brown). Check me on that but he is so right…it’s about IoT / IoE / PoE / Li-Fi / VLC / VoIP / SAE / LaaS and much much more…….and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s under the surface of the water is mind boggling. The real game changers are Big Lighting + Big Data + Big Networking. It’s cooperative innovation again! Time will tell but it is clear, we are on a pathway to connected information using light! WOW! IT companies see a real opportunity to reshape the lighting industry and they want a piece. Maybe even dominate… don’t look back, they may be gaining on you.
Simply put, our customers will want Intelligent Lighting when they understand the benefits, and there will be many. Intelligent Lighting is about the ability to easily interface with other systems to deliver additional value; it is key to our success in an overall vibrant digital ecosystem. Connected lighting systems can interface with many other building verticals, all leading to things like intelligent productive workspaces, innovative applications and services, digital marketing platforms, human centric lighting, healthcare – circadian rhythm cycles, plug-and-play interactions, integrated security (installed cameras for facial recognition), home and office automation, intelligent networks – secure / reliable, horticulture – indoor hydroponic gardening and much much more.
The lesson here is do not live in the past, live in the present but, most certainly, prepare for the future!