Trends you missed at LightFair International 2018

Article By : Yoelit Hiebert

Lighting and electronics continue to merge: radar, sensors, networks, spectral shaping…

LightFair International 2018, held May 6 – 10 in Chicago, has come and gone, and here’s what you missed if you didn’t attend. Which of these technologies will become all-out trends, do you think?

Figure 1  LFI 2018 show floor

Lighting meets radar

The metamorphosis of the LED lighting industry was on full display, continuing the shift from a focus on just lighting and lighting quality to additional functionality and connectivity. A case in point is the Radar Technology for Smart Lighting sensor shown by Avnet. This sensor uses 24 GHz Doppler radar originally designed by Infineon for automotive applications to not only detect the presence of occupants in a space but also their speed and direction of travel. One potential application for this technology is in roadway lighting, where street lights could detect an approaching vehicle and light the road ahead in accordance with the vehicle’s speed. Another potential application is in industrial facilities or warehouses at aisle intersections where moving equipment or carts might collide. The system would be able to detect the potential for a collision and change the color of light or provide some other alert to vehicle occupants. The radar signal can penetrate walls, so one sensor can provide broad area coverage, so in that sense is much more effective than traditional PIR (passive infrared).

Figure 2  Doppler radar sensor from Infineon and Avnet.

Very sensored

Another example is the smart sensor from enlighted that packs a lot of functionality into a small package. This device combines PIR, temperature and ambient light sensors, and Bluetooth, and can read energy consumption from a driver in a luminaire. These sensors can be networked to allow the user to monitor energy consumption of the lighting grid and create an intelligent lighting control system to optimize energy efficiency.

Figure 3  A small package with a big punch from enlighted.

The merger of the lighting and electronics industries also continues unabated. Lighting companies are expanding into sensing/networking, and companies with no lighting background are offering LED lighting product lines. For example, Verbatim of data storage fame has expanded into LED lighting, and Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) now offers a full range of interworkable lighting products for networked commissioning and monitoring.

A service-based business model is gaining traction, in which companies provide not only lighting products but also additional services. Legrand (formerly Wattstopper) is offering a real-time remote monitoring and on-demand lighting system service in addition to lighting-based sensor networking and commissioning at system start-up.

Light quality for plants and people

There’s some recognition that legacy lighting does, in some cases, provide superior light quality. A case in point is the new line of Cree XLamp CMT LED arrays aimed at markets for which color rendering is exceptionally important (think retail and museums). These packages are available in specialty color points that are designed to replicate Ceramic Metal Halide, but with the efficiency and longevity of LEDs.

There didn’t seem to be as many horticultural lighting products on display; maybe companies are shifting their efforts to horticultural trade shows. Arrow Lighting showed a system that includes a display of the light spectrum the plants are receiving. Recent research has revealed that for maximum production, plants need different spectra at different phases of growth and maturity, so this is a nifty visualization for the grow facility manager.

Figure 4  See the spectrum with this horticultural lighting system from Arrow.

The enthusiasm for IoT implementations seemed more muted than last year. Perhaps the industry is coming to the realization that IoT is easier said than done. Nor did I notice anyone talking much about network security (still).

[Continue reading on EDN US: The lighter side and videos]

 —Yoelit Hiebert has worked in the field of LED lighting for the past 10 years and has experience in both the manufacturing and end-user sides of the industry.

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