In part 2 of our discussion with Menko Deroos, CEO and Co-Founder of the innovative lighting company Xicato, we talk about the importance of quality of light to the IoT and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) markets. Don’t miss part 1, where we covered the Internet of Lights, Lighting 2.0, and how they relate to the Internet of Things.
Wendy Toth: What is ‘quality of light’ and why is it important?
Menko Deroos: There’s a human need for good quality of light. Good quality light shows colors correctly and is consistent from light source to light source. What’s interesting is that people don’t notice quality lighting but they do notice poor quality light. In addition to the light itself, lighting shouldn’t flicker or take time to come into full brightness.
Beyond the human need, there’s also a real business reason for good-quality lighting, especially in markets such as retail, hospitality, and medical facilities. The great thing about LEDs is that while their energy efficiency is very good and gets much of the attention, it’s their quality of light that is just as impressive.
TOTH: What’s the role of quality of lighting in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?
DEROOS: Let me take the retail market as an example. With sales increasing through the Internet, brick-and-mortar stores have to rethink what their image should be. They need to figure out what they can do to help attract people who walk by outside to enter the store. Then, they need to improve the experience of customers in the store so they’ll stay longer and make purchases.
For that reason, lighting is playing an increasingly important role in creating that experience. If you have good lighting, you can directly affect sales. If you’re using LED-based lighting, the light can be engineered for optimum impact and effect. As a result, retail stores are moving away from the conventional lights and moving toward LEDs.
LEDs also allow you to make lights into nodes on an IIoT. You can have entire shopping malls or large stores where LED lighting is improving the retail experience through the quality of light as well as the analytics and communications capabilities enabled by the IIoT and associated applications. The retailer not only has the ability to save money, but also the opportunity to sell more.
DEROOS: Lighting has an impact has on wellbeing how we feel, behave, and our overall health. As a result, the impact of lighting on health is a topic of significant research.
Care facilities for example, want to ensure that doctors and nurses see colors, like skin tones, correctly. Visual examination is an important part of the diagnostic process - a particular color on the skin might be an indication that something is not right.
In that very practical example, the quality of light has a direct effect on the quality of medical care provided.
TOTH: I imagine that once a market switches to LED lights for either energy efficiency or quality of light reasons, they are then candidates for Internet of Lights applications?
DEROOS: Absolutely. To go back to our retail example, say you have all your LED lights networked and able to be digitally controlled. You can enable them all with Bluetooth capability, so you now have access through your wired communication to every single light through Bluetooth. You can use that Bluetooth channel to communicate with people using their phones or smart wristwatches or whatever communications devices they have, to offer promotions or alerts or other information that might appeal to them.
In hospitals that have networked lighting, they can now keep track of carts of medical equipment and monitors, which is often difficult to do in a busy hospital. And sometimes they just disappear. Being able to locate a specific art within inches in real time provides immense value to those hospitals.
TOTH: It sounds like you see quality of light as an important gateway or entrance to the Internet of Lights.
DEROOS: That’s a great way to put it. Quality of light is hard to spec, but we’re getting better at it. And people are becoming more educated and aware of the difference between poor and good quality of light.
It doesn’t matter whether people choose LED lighting for their buildings for energy efficiency or longevity or quality of light reasons. The point is, once the LEDs are there, the lighting become an asset in the building rather than a consumable. And then, you have the potential for adding a control network and establishing an Internet of Lights.
From there, you can start adding real value. You can increase retail sales, improve healthcare in hospitals, help passengers navigate airports more efficiently, and provide new levels of personalized services in hotels and restaurants. The Internet of Lights is a real paradigm shift. You can help save energy while improving the experience with the best quality of light in the world and then add these new levels of value. It’s very exciting.
IIoT Talks is a conversation between industry luminaries and Echelon Corporation about the opportunities of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market. Echelon's Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy Toth, will share highlights of these conversations via the company blog. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to email@example.com.