enLIGHTenment – The Lighting Industry Trade Publication

Editors Note: April 2017

How “Smart” Are You?

Those keypad home alarm systems have been around for a really long time now, yet can you believe only 15 percent of American homes are armed with security systems? And out of that number, 54 percent of owners surveyed revealed they are unsure of how to operate their system! These aren’t old statistics either, they come from a study published in September 2016 that counted the FBI and ADT security among its sources.

A presentation I attended at last month’s Strategies in Light Conference/LED Show in California explored what this slow adoption to technology that the home alarm business has undergone means for the lighting industry. The speaker, Robert Karlicek, Jr., Professor/Director, Center of Lighting-Enabled Systems & Applications at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said it’s possible that residential “smart” lighting adoption may be slower and more limited in scope. The fact is, no one knows what the market share will be just yet. What Karlicek refers to as “disruptive creation” will keep on happening, with lasers entering the automotive market, video illumination, adaptive laser beam shaping, and 5G and 6G telecom using light such as pureLiFi™ which transmits data wirelessly using the light spectrum.

It’s also quite possible that with the fast adoption of smartphone technology, embracing “smart lighting” will become a no-brainer. However, I’ve heard experts caution that the residential lighting industry is in danger of losing market share to the technology sector as companies such as Apple, Samsung, and Google gain wider consumer acceptance with their lighting control products faster than lighting industry leaders can.

The good news is that the percentage of consumers using smartphones seems to be much larger than the amount of households using alarm systems (according to that report). It’s important for lighting showrooms, interior designers, and lighting specifiers to educate their clients on the benefits of the smart lighting systems out there and to guide them on compatibility issues with their existing systems. Furthermore, a good lighting controls specialist will do a more thorough job of satisfying the client’s whole-house needs – which, in turn, will often lead to a more comprehensive, higher-ticket system – than if they were to shop the aisles of an electronics store chain and trying to mix and match protocols on their own.

Smart lighting can be a huge opportunity for lighting showrooms and interior designers. Technology is not going to become extinct, and the more comfortable consumers become with it, the more they will want. Make sure you publicize your expertise in this area and be sure to offer smart technology options with every lighting plan or sale that your company makes. This issue offers several articles that will help give you a taste of the future.

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