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Cities, homes and devices are getting smarter every day, driven by innovative technology and processes shaping sustainability and value. Connected lighting forms one of the most prevalent driving factors of sustainability.

As an industry in itself, lighting has evolved drastically over the past two decades, skyrocketing in its innovation by moving from tubes to semiconductor components and LED-powered connected lighting.

Lighting is no longer utilised as just a simple on and off mechanism. It is much more than that. It is no surprise that the smart lighting market alone is expected to reach $58.57 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 29.30%, forecasted over 2020-2025.

Connected lighting and new applications are the next journeys for the fascinating industry of lighting. But how will this change our daily lives? Well, keeping reading to find out.

What is Connected Lighting

The foundation of connectivity is built on the communication between sensors and devices connected to a network that can exchange data. Smart connected lighting technology works no different.

Providing a multitude of use-cases from temperature monitoring to air purification and enhancing communication, the connected lighting infrastructure allows valuable and transparent insights into spaces that would otherwise be overlooked.

Having such lighting deployments within buildings generates real-time improvements to optimise efficiency, increase productivity and save energy.

The power of connected lighting is infiltrating both the commercial and private spheres of society, delivering up to 80% energy savings.

As we advance in IoT Technology and the need for energy-efficient, automated tools become ever more paramount in an advancing world, connected lighting is a sustainability component that will play an increasingly important role.

Here are the most transformative connected lighting trends that you can expect to see in 2021 and beyond!

1. UV-C Lighting

We have seen many IoT technology solutions come to light from the pandemic, aiming to control and reduce the disruption of future vulnerabilities.

UV-C lighting is one component that has grabbed much attention. It is powered by Ultra-Violet radiation that functions to disinfect surfaces within minutes.

In terms of the Covid-19, UV-C radiation has been shown to inactivate the virus. A lab testing by Signify discovered their UV-C light sources inactivated 99% of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a surface with an exposure time of 6 seconds.

UV-C Lighting Use Cases

The use cases of UV-C lighting to sanitise are endless. From routine robots cleaning hotels, desk lamps and air convection solutions, the lighting can seamlessly integrate into various settings.

Hans Nikol, Head of innovation at Signify, commented on the key use-cases we can expect from UV-C lighting on a recent episode of The IoT Podcast:

‘So, you can do this [UV-C] in the absence of people. And there are quite several products that we [Signify] support, like robots, etc. That will go into cleaning cycles, let’s say in hospitals or in hotels or many places when people are not present. And then you simply disinfect spaces or the surfaces.’

‘And the other part is a solution when people are present. And so there’s one that we are currently installing, which is called upper air disinfection. Where you have what we call a luminaire on the ceiling that radiates UV-C light. And by air convection, the air that might contain a virus moves up and is disinfected in a very short time.’

As we progress into the broad deployment of smart cities and homes, having UV-C lighting set-up in offices, shops, and commercial areas will prove ground-breaking at controlling potential future disease outbreaks, while maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.

2. Li-Fi is the new Wi-Fi.

Li-Fi – short for Light-Fidelity – is a wireless communication technology that utilises light to communicate and exchange data between connected devices. It is based on Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology to converse and transmit frequency to the receiver.

As part of connected lighting applications, Li-Fi technology has facilitated lighting to innovate and move beyond just a singular function to a communication network in itself.

A much-discussed area concerning light-fidelity is security. As light is shielded by walls, Li-Fi offers a much more secure network than Wi-Fi alone, making it a perfect augmentation for the protocol.

But why should you be watching out for Li-Fi?

Sustainability and innovation is a huge part of IoT driven components, as we become more aware of how advanced lighting technology can optimise energy and enhance processes like security.

Though, as a relatively new and fresh concept, Li-Fi is only just in development. This means, for now, we won’t be seeing any quick emergence of Li-Fi technology within our homes or offices, for that matter. We will most likely witness the power of Li-Fi first leveraged in specialised and professional applications.

But this early concept is exactly what will lead Li-Fi’s prominence this year, and in the years to come, as the technology grows and augments other communication protocols, Li-Fi is definitely one to look out for!

3. Horticultural lighting for sustainable food production

The perishable industry is a huge market with a turnover of 3526 Million USD in 2020. Despite this, food waste is still a significant issue plaguing our planet, with a staggering 40% of food wasted from poor shipping and growing conditions.

We have seen IoT solutions utilise sensors to track conditions of perishables in transit and enable optimal conditions. However, we can take this even further with the aim to reduce environmental impacts.

For the agricultural industry, Horticultural lighting is a favoured method to optimise plant growth through artificial illumination and enable perfect conditions for the perishable to propagate.

The controlled farming environments harnessed by horticultural lighting reaps multiple benefits not just for the condition of the perishable but also for productivity, cost and reducing environmental impacts like the need for land, water, pesticides, and the distance food travels to reach your plate.

LED usage to grow food facilitates controlled farming environments that fine-tune quality and increase food yield.

4. Reduced Energy Consumption

Taking steps to reduce energy intake is crucial to conserve natural resources, prevent toxicity, and protect our planet’s environment.

We have seen a significant decrease in electrical energy consumption by moving toward LED lighting components in the past decade.

Connected lighting is powered by LED, contributing benefits to the global reduction of electricity consumption.

LED has become an ingrained part of the lighting space; somewhere in our home, we all own an LED-powered light bulb or light fixture that uptake the majority of the lighting in our homes and offices.

But it is not just the type of component that connected lighting uses.

Smart connected lighting applications are moving toward intelligent systems that can interact and utilise multiple functions. For instance, Automated AI lighting that speaks to you and alerts you of how much energy you are wasting is in growth.

To further decrease environmental impacts leading lighting companies like Signify are taking sustainability a step further by becoming completely carbon neutral!

Smart connected lighting is the next step for the world to become more energy-efficient, reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable way of life.

5. Even Smarter Homes and Cities

Today cities consume 78% of the world’s energy. To evolve cities into smart ecosystems require all parts of the infrastructure to work together and unify as one complementary system.

Connected street lighting is a strong foundation forming part of the Smart City infrastructure, as of a city’s energy lighting can account for up to 50 percent of a city’s entire energy budget.

The use cases for connected lighting in smart cities are endless. Some of the key innovations include:

We are only just at the start of the journey!

We are at an exciting and pivotal time for the lighting industry, with connected lighting leading the way to an increasingly sustainable world. As we continue the journey throughout 2021, it will be inspiring to see how these innovations play out and what new use cases emerge.