The Evolution of Light: From Incandescent Bulb to IoT Based Smart and Human Centric Lighting! – Part 1
Mar 28, 2018
Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have been fascinated with light. In their chase to possess the magic of light, they discovered fire and ushered in the concept of illumination post the sunset. Soon, the fire turned to candles and then to gas lights. In their quest for light, they discovered electricity, and along with it came Sir Thomas Elva Edison’s incandescent electric bulb! A single light source could easily light up a room.
Things were going well, but then mankind realised that the electric bulb is definitely an energy guzzler. The need of the hour was to have an energy-efficient light source that will also provide a relatively longer life. Next came the era of the fluorescent tube lights, which converted the UV radiation to visible white light. Subsequently, the incandescent bulbs were replaced by the compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs. These were sources primarily meant for indoor applications, whereas for outdoor applications we had invented highly energy-efficient high wattage light sources like sodium vapour lamps (energy efficient with long life, but a monochromatic source) and metal halide lamps (offers crisp white light). After this, came in various sensors and lighting controllers which gave us enough flexibility to create various lighting ambiances.
With the above sources and accessories in place, mankind entered the phase of application engineering and started providing lighting solutions with the intent of optimising the CAPEX and the OPEX. The right light at the right place and at the right time became the mantra. Discovering various lighting parameters like lux, uniformity, minimum glare for a soothing ambiance, mood lighting, and appropriate lighting for better productivity became the objective. We were now in the era of energy-efficient lighting solutions.
In the recent years, we invented blue LEDs, thus stepping into the era of “smart and intelligent lighting" that is human centric!
Now, what is smart and intelligent lighting?
This idea came up with the advent of solid state (LED, as these can respond to any command without delay, there's no run-up time) lighting with various controls.
Smart lighting is a layout of smart luminaries. Smart luminaries are those luminaries, which have standard accessories such as dimmable drivers, sensors etc. with a communicable device which is basically a controller (SLC device) such that each luminaire can "talk" to the other and also to the other allied and peripheral devices. This way, a huge amount of data can be exchanged and data analytics can be done to capture a lot of information. Since light is omnipresent, its architecture can be effectively utilized for the same. Also, because these smart communicable devices such as the nodes or controllers, gateways, cloud server are part of the architecture for "internet of things" (IoT), so we call the smart lighting as IoT-ised or IoT based lighting solution.
If we take street lighting as an example, the otherwise passive luminaries and poles, if made smart by using controllers compatible to either RF mesh or ultra-narrow band (UNB), can collate various data and send them to cloud server where they will be processed and analysed and necessary feedback will be provided to the respective devices. Thus, we could have real time dimming and / or switching on or off of luminaries from a touch point device. We could also have a smart camera either integrated with smart poles or separately attached to the luminaire with video analytics, which can help in real time traffic control at major street junctions. One could even have RFID based smart garbage bin control.
One can integrate various other sensors like parking sensors in parking lots, weather monitoring or pollution sensors on lighting architecture and get various information which could be used to the advantage of the public. This can lead to saving a huge amount of energy, taking care of proactive maintenance as well as capture a lot of information. Similar smart concepts can also be applied for indoor applications, where along with lighting the other allied services like HVAC (main energy guzzler), fire detection systems, CCTV cameras, access controls etc. can also be managed.
Brands and people have slowly but surely waken up to the smart lighting phenomenon. In recent times, Bajaj Electricals is one of the few companies who has not only made advancements in the world of smart lighting, but has also made its mark in Smart City and Smart Building projects.