By Earl Reser
By Earl Reser
May 10, 2018 — LED lights have been commercially available since the 1960s, and they continue their rise toward becoming the preferred choice in lighting owing to their energy efficiency, durability, design flexibility and zero UV emissions.
Technological developments and the IoT (internet of things) revolution is already enabling industries to use connected, intelligent LED lighting for smart lighting systems in retail, offices and homes.
Consequently, the global market for LED lighting is estimated to grow with a healthy CAGR of 22% by the year 2020.1 Indeed, the combination of LED lighting and IoT is soon expected to replace traditional incandescent lighting altogether, ensuring a bright future for high-end intelligent LED lighting.
Here are four forthcoming applications of the connected, intelligent LED lighting that are changing the way we live and work.
1. Indoor farming
Versatile LEDs are being coupled with remote sensing technologies to offer automated lighting strategies in the field of horticulture. The technology adjusts the wavelength of light, creating a plant-specific spectrum that promotes a healthy growth cycle. Also referred to as LED grow lights, these intelligent bulbs are made of semiconductor compounds, namely Gallium Arsenide, Gallium Phosphide, Gallium Arsenide Phosphide, Silicon Carbide and Gallium Indium Nitride to emit a distinct wavelength of light (photosynthetically active radiation, or PAR) that is suitable for healthy plant growth.
The LED grow lights are 50% more efficient than CFLs, enabling efficient utilization of energy. By maximizing the precise amount of light across the growing surface, the connected LED lights can intelligently adapt the lighting to the needs of the plants, guaranteeing a healthy harvest.
With advanced research in this domain, agriculture technology firms such as Agrivolution and AeroFarms are working on smart LED grow lights that can spray an aeroponic or hydroponic mist of nutrients and oxygen, promoting healthy plant growth and arresting root rot. This smart, engineered LED lighting will deliver the exact electromagnetic spectrum, intensity and frequency required, allowing the indoor farmer to control the colour, size, texture and flavour of the crop.
Owing to the low-power consumption and the precise spectral intensity offered by this technology, intelligent LEDs are being increasingly used for plant research, greenhouse cultivation, controlled-environment horticulture and indoor gardening.
2. Healthcare lighting solutions
The colour and intensity of a light source have a huge impact on the mood and well-being of patients, and the efficiency of hospital staff.2 Connected LED lighting systems are perfectly suited for healthcare settings, offering light that is responsive to human needs and behaviour.
Intelligent LED lights possess sensors that enable environmentally aware and responsive lighting in hospital settings. System-on-chip light sensors offer complete light sensing by converting the analogue data into digital data that can be transmitted over a microprocessor interface.3 Moreover, the sophisticated filtering automatically senses and measures the daylight entering the building, adjusting the light inside the rooms accordingly.
Technology is enabling LED lights to intelligently adapt to facility requirements by using local and centralized multi-sensor controls. These intelligent LED lights can be integrated with IoT to automatically sense and render a pleasant atmosphere for patients, caregivers and hospital staff. The preferred light scenes can be automatically saved in the system and replicated (or reprogrammed) when required.
In hospital settings, where power is needed on a 24/7 basis, intelligent LED lighting offers huge energy savings. For instance, when sensors detect few to no people in transit areas, the system will regulate the LED lighting to a pre-defined residual level.
3. Remote security monitoring
The transformation to intelligent LED lighting can offer remote security monitoring solutions using integrated analytic sensors and controllers that can detect light, motion, occupancy, heat, air quality, chemicals, smoke and even gunshots, empowering the security team to improve its operations.
For instance, LED-based chemical sensors, photodiodes and sensing devices can be used to monitor the level of harmful air pollutants in a room; namely, particulate matter, pesticides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).4 Moreover, the green LED light coupled with a red-shifted photomultiplier tube as a detector can be used to detect the presence of trinitroaromatic explosives in the environment.5
Similarly, intelligent LED lights can detect gunshots using acoustic sensors and software, and broadcast an alert to emergency services and smartphones, offering precise information on the location of gun fire and the number of gunshots and shooters involved.6
Connected, intelligent LED lighting has a promising role to play in the remote security monitoring and surveillance domain. Though smart LED lighting is not in the same league as video surveillance, it can be used to extend the capability of the current electronic security systems.
For instance, these lights provide a network path by which security systems can connect to other IoT-enabled devices, such as phones and surveillance cam- eras. Similarly, when coupled with occupancy sensors, intelligent LED lighting can improve safety and security systems in homes and offices.
4. Wireless communications
Li-Fi (light fidelity) is a fast and inexpensive optical communications system that employs smart LED light bulbs to transmit data. The digital data can be transmitted when these high-intensity LEDs are switched on, promising a theoretical speed of more than 10 Gbps.
Li-Fi uses visible light communication (VLC) to broadcast information wirelessly, making it safe for use in aircraft and hospitals, and in areas where a Wi-Fi connection is not recommended or fiber optics cannot be installed. The intelligent LED light bulb holds a microchip that processes data with the help of special modulation using signal processing technology (Figure 1).
The concept of Li-Fi is attracting a great deal of interest in various domains owing to its reliability, high-speed and secure data transmission. Consequently, the role of Li-Fi is being explored for use in healthcare, airline, power plant, undersea exploration and smart traffic signal applications.
Doors opening everywhere
Connected, intelligent LED lighting is a technology wave that is bringing new capabilities to businesses and routine life, from hospitals that make us feel better and food that grows better to keeping our surroundings more secure. Some of these applications are already here while some are still being piloted, but it’s exciting to think what the next great applications will be.
1. “Global LED Industrial Lighting Market 2016-2020”, Technavio, February 2016, tinyurl.com/y8k666ub.
2. International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), standard.wellcertified.com/v6/light.
3. Jian-Fu Wu, Chia-Ling Wei, Yuan-Ta Hsieh, Chiao-Li Fang, Hann-Huei Tsai, Ying-Zong Juang, “Integrated ambient light sensor on a LED driver chip”, International Conference on Power Electronics and Drive Systems, 2011, IEEE, ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6147368.
4. Pulin Yeh, Naichia Yeh, Chin-Hai Lee, Ting-Jou Ding, “Applications of LEDs in optical sensors and chemical sensing device for detection of biochemicals, heavy metals, and environmental nutrients”, Elsevier, November 2016, tinyurl.com/y8dz4afj.
5. Martina O’Toole, Dermot Diamond, “Absorbance-based light emitting diode optical sensors & sensing devices”, MDPI, 2008, tinyurl.com/ycts3gla.
6. “LA trials streetlights that can hear gunshots”, Lux, March 2017, tinyurl.com/yby4zypr.
Earl Reser is a professional writer with a passion for sharing his experiences with others. He also writes for Sompor (sompor.com), a manufacturer of various LED lighting solutions.
This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.