The 130 year old incandescent bulb has made a monumental impact on our lives and many bulbs still linger in circulation, despite all the downsides and strong alternatives. The time for replacement of this outdated technology has arrived in full force. One of the main technologies replacing the old glowing lamps of yesterday is the compact fluorescent bulb. At the same time, we have seen light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, the next generation of technology, seeing rapid adoption.
The incandescent bulb is a point source of light with high heat and low efficiency – the entire bulb concept was built around these limitations. With the introduction of the fluorescent tube in the 1930’s – the physical requirement of a bulb wrapping a single point of light was changed to allow tubes and surfaces as lighting fixtures. These two types of light technology are commonly used for interior lighting today and require defined fixtures and arrangements. Because of the legacy of the bulb and fixture system, most new LED products are designed as bulbs and retrofits into the same form factors. Fortunately, going forward, it will be possible to create radically different styles of lighting fixtures and surfaces and break away from the dominant bulb paradigm using LED technology. The existing form factors, limited control capability and low efficiency are all previous constraints overcome with LED lighting. Once we break away from these, a whole new range of products and lighting experiences become possible.
We have only just began to tap the potential of LEDs and starting seeing interesting new lighting fixtures and lighting systems. In particular the rapid on/off cycling of LEDs as well as the small efficient package makes them ideal for custom physical sizes, wide integration into a range of products and of course, new lighting experiences such as color washes, controllable home lighting and efficient, controllable commercial lighting. It is also easier to shape the LED light into strongly focused or diffused beams, allowing a new range of lighting design. A good example is this beautiful light solution that breaks out of the old retrofit standard.
Another great future following from LEDs is in surface lighting, which can range from a simple white panel to colorful interactive lighting surfaces. Many of today’s new leading products seem straight out of science fiction. Surface lighting has several benefits. It is pleasant to look at as it does not have bright hot spots that cause eye strain. Additionally, surface lighting has usages from general illumination or task lighting and can be easily blended over into ambient lighting. Surface lighting also enables places to be transformed into stunning experiences by using artistic light patterns to create a dynamic ambient lightscape.
This is a major differentiating part of next generation lighting solutions. In the past we had the bulb or ceiling light panel with two simple states: on or off. Because LED lighting allows a far better control capability and surface lighting solution can create arrangements not limited only to white lighting, they offer both a whole new opportunity and also a coming new wave of architectural and interior design. Going one step further, also using the full color light spectrum over an area allows for mood enhancement, branding experiences, and strong memorable as well as subtle new experiences of our built spaces.
One of the big impacts that interior designers have noticed is that applying color controllable surface lighting to a space seems to make it suddenly feel full of life and energy. There are endless possibilities with these new colorful surface lighting technologies.
How could you imagine using this solution in your connected home?
by Richard Wimmer