Two years ago, I closed a guest blog post in this very space with the following: “….exciting times and opportunities lie ahead for lighting that leads…” (see “Tipping Points, Toothaches and LEDs” published on 4/9/2013). That two-year old blog post hinted of evolutionary opportunities available to/for “lighting,” something I referred to as “lighting that leads.” Some likely thought my speculations/thinking were too far afield for “lighting,” but clearly there were/are those who thought/think similarly. Recently, numerous lighting companies, including OSRAM SYLVANIA with our new LIGHTIFY portfolio, have made announcements about connected lighting. Recognizing that sockets compatible with connecting lighting heretofore only served to hold and power a source of illumination, it is remarkable to realize that those same sockets are also now physically and technically positioned to enable intelligent receiving and transmitting nodes in a “connected world,” indeed to become an integral part of the coming Internet of Things/Everything. Remarkable!
Knowing that light and lighting are ubiquitous and a mainstay in our 24/7 culture, one should not be too surprised to discover products and technologies which facilitate the production and delivery of light might also be an important part of the “connected world’s” infrastructure. Said differently, I believe products and technologies which facilitate the production and delivery of light will have the first right of refusal in becoming a critically important part of the coming “connected world,” particularly in ways which are very visible to the average consumer. To me, this is both obvious and concerning. Done correctly, I believe this will provide service, application and business opportunities for companies who have long-served consumers of light and lighting products. I expect said companies will have opportunities to participate in new growth and profitable business areas which have been difficult to find and take benefit of in recent years. In addition to the growth and profitability opportunities, I do have concerns related to the challenges the former “lighting companies” have in accommodating the dramatic change in expertise and competence required to design, develop and support “connected” products, technologies and services. Having said that, lighting companies, once known only as experts in traditional light sources and/or drivers/controls, are embracing the opportunity to change their technological core, to evolve and reinvent themselves toward connected technologies, products and service, while maintaining their competence and expertise in providing light and illumination. I believe the trend and direction of the players, and the industry, is favorable.
Although I view the current situation as favorable, I believe many challenges remain. Despite those challenges, I stand by my closing comment of nearly two years ago – – – – The work will be challenging, but interesting. The benefits will initially be difficult to document with numbers, but nonetheless evident. Patience (by all) will be required but exciting times and opportunities lie ahead for lighting that leads!