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Comment: The sociological principles of lighting design bank on technology

Comment: The sociological principles of lighting design bank on technology

Social behaviour and technology collectively provide the basis for new innovation in lighting design

Erco's skim track lighting removes ceiling clutter to provide focused illumination.
Erco's skim track lighting removes ceiling clutter to provide focused illumination.

Recently, I came across a topic that drew parallels between the roles of lighting designers and sociologists. Intrigued, I delved a bit further. The confluence of technology and a social behaviour-driven approach is driving new trends in lighting.

Designing for humans in the 21st century and their rapidly evolving lifestyle is vastly different from the principles of lighting design practised, say, even two decades ago. With changing urban environments and digitalisation of spaces, technology has opened new avenues that were previously unimaginable. A new lighting research by Italian firm, iGuzzini, addresses the challenges faced by lighting designers in social spaces which are also influenced by the local cultural context.

In interior spaces, especially, in workspaces, tech features are being integrated into lighting solutions create a wealth of data about the utilisation of space by employees, and how to optimise the use of real estate. On the other hand, retail venues are providing bluetooth and li-fi technology to shoppers via lighting which helps them make informed choices about products, as well as assist operators in studying consumer behaviour. Hospitality operators, too, are getting in on the game by commissioning interactive lighting features to their guests.

All this data is gold for property operators enabling them to decide on the viability of products as well as drawing up customer profile. However, Antoine Jean of Zumtobel Group, makes a valid point about the intrusive nature of technology, such as when shoppers’ every movement can be tracked while using the li-fi-operated feature.

With strict privacy laws in the UAE, and generally in the region, it remains to be seen how these attributes will be implemented into lighting systems, if they ever do.

While the jury is still out on the use of li-fi technology, lighting sector continues to grow exponentially, not just because good lighting design can give a project its distinctive identity, but simply because human behaviour is heavily affected by lighting.

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