Making other things visible: latest innovations in lighting technology

Making other things visible: latest innovations in lighting technology

Further development of technical solutions remains the driving force in lighting design. This was the top theme at this year’s Light + Building fair, recently held in Frankfurt, along with the digitalisation and the integration of lighting into architectural plans.

However, the demands for aesthetic appeal cannot be overlooked as well as the impact of light on the human wellbeing. With lighting being one of the most important aspects of interior design, CID talks to regional experts about the latest innovations in the field of lighting technology and to specific trends currently shaping the global and Middle East markets and how are they impacting demand for lighting products.

“Global trends and concepts are not only implemented in UAE but more frequently are created here,” says Shafik El-Abdellah Morillas, general manager at In-Lite. “The confirmation of Dubai as a global design hub means an increasing number of original concepts are coming into the market. There is a growth in the demand, not only of ready-made lighting solutions, but custom made items that reflect the design intent and concept. In turn, lighting brands are responding to that market request, being more flexible in accommodating clients’ needs.”

Sergio Padula, the lighting specialist and technical manager at iGuzzini Middle East, explains that one of the most interesting and significant design trends during 2015 has been the possibility of experiencing and perceiving the space in an interactive way.

“And, consequently, the new active role that the consumer has achieved and the way he/she can engage with the surrounding environment,” he adds.

Martin Fryzelka, managing director of Preciosa Middle East, agrees that interactive lighting will remain an emerging topic in 2016.

“They have to conform to the aesthetic and functional needs of the customer who seeks modern and timeless design,” says Fryzelka. “Our clients´ frequent requests are therefore controllable scenes on various platforms. These trends impact also the purity of lighting in the sense of light and material interaction quality, where material is illuminated by the given light source.”

With smartphones becoming a tool to connect beyond just calls, Padula says that another emerging trend is the possibility to control and change ‘colour temperatures’ through smart devices.

He explains: “One of the characteristics of LEDs is that they keep their colour temperature constant even when the light intensity varies, whereas with halogen lamps the two variables are completely dependent on each other,” explains Padula. “It is this correlation that keeps the old technology alive as the effect is extremely popular with both designers and the general public.”

For this reason, says Padula, iGuzzini has conducted research in the opposite direction to win back the reactive light of halogen lamps while maintaining the performance of LEDs.

“Warm dimming is a new function where the colour temperature varies when light intensity is reduced, but colour rendering remains constant. All this is achieved with one driver only in an incredible design that also offers formal consistency, cost effectiveness and easy-to-install components.

“Another important trend is the tunable-white technology,” Padula says. “It creates dynamic white light by varying colour temperature from 2700K to 5700K while keeping light intensity constant. This highly versatile function adapts light to suit any situation perfectly. It is, therefore, an ideal solution for lighting a wide range of contexts, especially retail spaces where products and displays are changed constantly.”

Mark Vowles, director of architectural lighting design practice, Nulty Lighting, notices that with the advancement of technology “the customisation of ‘your’ space is endless”.

“Gone are the days when you are just limited to dimming,” says Vowles. “ Now you can change the intensity, colour temperature, controls zone and so on. You can integrate your lighting with the shade system and daylight sensors to optimise the use of natural light and limit the glare. Then as the sun goes down the artificial light with automatically come on.

“The advancements in technology have added to sustainable solutions by giving us control over each and every fitting on a project and writing a control strategy that means we are not wasting energy lighting areas that are not occupied or in use during certain times of the day. That said you have to be careful not to over complicate the control system otherwise people won’t use it correctly and then it usually becomes an inefficient system.”

A shift toward more efficient lighting has long been on the agenda of iGuzzini, which, according to Padula, started its fight against lighting pollution in 1993 and explored the use of biodynamic light in 2000.

“Sustainability is not a limit,” he says. “It is a reality and a challenge, a confrontation from which innovation and progress originate.

“With an eye on energy consumption, we have paid concrete attention to the waste caused by useless dispersion of public lighting installations. Our commitment has been translated into more rational and more efficient solutions in the use of energy, including offices and workplaces. All new products are equipped with LEDs and managed by electronic systems that control the switch-on cycles according to actual lighting needs. Our products are designed to last and to be disassembled and disposed of easily.”

Apart from its already known advantages in energy consumption and lifespan, Shafik El- Abdellah Morillas, general manager at In-Lite, explains that LED is also becoming a more affordable solution.

“However, when it comes to sustainability, In-lite is passionate about not only using LED but also coming up with solutions that save energy from different streams of work: intelligent design taking into consideration all variables like natural light and optimised product mix depending on use and area of the building. We believe that sustainability is not only about getting the label, but also ensuring that after many years, the design and functional use remain faithful to the original intent,” says Morillas.

Along with LED sources, Preciosa has also been using O-LEDs (Organic LEDs), which are, as Fryzelka explains, sought-after thanks to their favourable attributes, as they create smaller energy output and lesser heat waste. The high-end Bohemian glass and crystal provider considers it important that its production processes are fully in conformity with ISO 9001.

“Our products are made of 99% recyclable materials. The human approach is what we pride ourselves on. Almost 90% of our production is handmade. Therefore, we pay attention to adhering to the high standards of our expert craftsmen,” says Fryzelka while maintaining the a focus on local culture and history.

He adds: “The Middle East is home to the most demanding customers, who seek to cross the borders of their demands and fantasies. It is thanks to them we can bring gigantic visions and dreams to life. Such clients are looking for unique technological solutions and design, both of which we can proactively meet with our technologies in such manner that we are able to guarantee almost anything.”

Recently, Preciosa has been involved in some of the most prestigious projects in the region, including the Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay, Bloom Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi, Burj Al Arab Hotel and the Emirates Palace.

“In this region we are met with challenges every day,” says Fryzelka. “An example of that is commissioning of a 1,600m2 light fitting that weighs 75 tons and was designed for a private palace. The installation took six months and involved up to one hundred experts.”

Established in 1958, iGuzzini is one of the largest Italian companies specialising in technical and architectural lighting and has operated in the Middle East for almost four decades. Its recent projects in the- region include the Science Museum and the Etihad Museum, Blue Water, the Box Park, The Walk in JBR, Palazzo Versace, Reel Cinema City Walk in Dubai, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Financial District Mosque in Riyadh, The Queen Alia International Airport in Amman and Dowlat Building in Iran.

“One of the major challenges we are facing whilst working on projects across the Middle East is to get the specifications respected and to ensure all the key actors involved stick to the original design and lighting scheme,” notes Padula. “Another important challenge is to understand the value and the importance of the quality of lighting and the impact lighting has on the overall project, not only in terms of aesthetics but above all for the well-being of the community living in the space.”

For Morillas and his team at In-Lite, one of the main challenges in the market remains the quality reduction at execution stage, driven by the slow-down in the economy.

“For us is important to choose the right projects that can ensure the high levels of quality required,” he adds. “The support of our brands, at a time when the competition from Eastern manufacturers gets stronger day by day, has been key to delivering products that innovate and bring uniqueness to the projects. Vibia remains one of our anchor brands, now recognisable in many commercial outlets throughout the region.”

In the course of 2015, In-Lite has accomplished these goals in projects like Costa Coffee, Grand Hyatt Healthcare City and Sheraton Creek.

Vowles agrees that making sure the client reserves enough budget for quality lighting products is always a challnge.

“Secondly, time frames…there seems to be a habit in the Middle East where projects go quiet for long periods of time then suddenly there is a mad rush to get deliverables out the door,” he says.

Taking light beyond illumination

At the Light + Building Fair, Philips announced it will deliver the first connected indoor positioning system in the Middle East for Dubai-based retail chain aswaaq

Philips Lighting has showcased its leadership in connected lighting systems that are transforming homes, offices, shops and streets into smart spaces across the world. The company introduced new products, systems, services and partnerships that further integrate lighting into the Internet of Things (IoT), enabling its customers to create new experiences and unlock new value from apps and services.

“It is still about LED lighting, it is still about connected lighting, but we are extending our leadership in the Internet of Things to deliver unique benefits to our customers. It is about an enhanced quality of light, even greater energy savings, but unlocking new values of IoT apps and services,” says Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting, explaining that one of the most important part of Philip’s innovation strategy named “Light, beyond illumination” includes the connected systems, which offer the possibility to connect, to control and to manage light like never before. “We are partnering with different start-up companies, specialised companies and apps developers to deliver light and additional benefits.”

Smart retailing

When it comes to the Middle East, Philips will deliver the first connected lighting indoor positioning system in the region for aswaaq, the UAE-based community retailer. The new system uses lights that act as a positioning system, which allows customers to use smartphones to access new location-based services.

The system works by the individual light points transmitting their location through a modulation of light (a technology called Visible Light Communication) that is invisible to the human eye but detected by the customer’s smartphone camera. Once the customer downloads the retailer’s app they can choose to access location-based services, such as finding items on their shopping list to an accuracy of 30cm. The data stream is one-way and no personal data is collected by the lighting system.

“We’re excited to join forces with Aisle411 as our location based services partner and see this brought to life in aswaaq’s Al Bada’a supermarket in Dubai,” says Parik Chopra, segment leader retail and hospitality for Philips Lighting.

By installing this indoor positioning technology in its Al Bada’a supermarket, aswaaq expects to benefit from a 50% reduction in lighting-based energy consumption, maintenance cost savings and a reduction in its carbon footprint.

Smart cities

Philips Lighting has announced a new global partnership with Vodafone. Under this agreement, the two companies will enable city authorities worldwide to implement connected street lighting systems which will be connected wirelessly, saving energy and making maintenance easier and more efficient. To date, Philips CityTouch has achieved 530 implementations across 33 countries, providing quality light, energy savings and operational cost savings to form a digital backbone for smart cities.

“Just less than 12% of the world’s street lights are LED and less than 2% are connected,” explains Bill Bien, head of strategy and marketing at Philips Lighting. “We are at the start of a new era which will see highly energy efficient connected street lighting become the backbone of most smart cities. Robust, reliable wireless connectivity will help make this happen, linking streetlights with sensors, devices and management systems. By partnering with Vodafone we can work together to take light beyond illumination, helping to make cities more energy efficient, more livable and giving people an increased sense of safety.”

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