The Next Revolution in LEDs is Control

The LED revolution sweeping the building industry is now ready for the next stage: intelligent lighting control, which has the potential to transform the retail environment by making it more flexible, better understood and connective with shoppers.

LEDs are inherently dimmable, and many LED products are sold with dimming capability regardless of how the owner plans to control them. Pairing dimmable LED lighting with lighting controls can accelerate energy savings, extend product service life, satisfy energy codes and provide greater flexibility.

As digital devices, LEDs are also inherently compatible with intelligent lighting control, in which intelligence is embedded into each light fixture. This provides individual addressability of light fixtures in a network (an Internet of Lighting), control zoning/rezoning using software, instant setup and remote calibration, and two-way communication for monitoring and analytics.

Intelligent lighting control is increasingly going wireless, which simplifies design and installation while increasing opportunities for installation in existing spaces. Miniaturization allows integration of controllers and sensors within the fixture (or lamp). Color-tuning control allows retailers to select color or shade of white light that is optimal for presenting merchandise at its best, basing it on shopper preference (dressing rooms), display characteristics, time of day or season.

Manufacturers are now offering packaged solutions of light fixtures and controls that bring the best of LED lighting and lighting control together in a way that maximizes energy savings, facilitates asset management and simplifies installation. The LED will increase adoption of intelligent control, while intelligent control facilitates adoption of LED.

In the future, the “Internet of Lighting” will play a part in the “Internet of Things,” with the LED light fixture offering strong potential as a platform. As LED fixtures are installed, they could be specified with additional sensors (including video) and controls. One particularly interesting capability is visible light communication (VLC), with solutions now being demonstrated by companies like Acuity, GE and Philips. VLC allows indoor location positioning, with light used to transmit information to shopper’s cell phones using a store app to communicate wayfinding, coupons, recipes, etc. With the introduction of sensors in the fixture, the LED lighting could also monitor floor traffic and otherwise help retailers better understand what is happening on the sales floor.

We’re at the frontier of transformation that will be unlocked by these emerging capabilities, which take the typical conversation about light to the benefits from illumination/cost to total control — lighting that generates business data, expands capabilities and adds business value in new ways.

Craig DiLouie, LC, is education director for the Lighting Controls Association (lighting-controlsassociation.org).

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