10 things we learned in 2019

We learned this year that prolonged exposure to blue light, such as from LED lighting and devices such as mobile phones, could be affecting your longevity, even if it’s not shining in your eyes.

It’s been a funny old year in the lighting business. We spent the first half trying say ‘Signify’ instead of ‘Philips’ and the second half wondering who’s going to buy Osram. And we’ve learned a LOT, mainly from scientists, about light and er, cows.

Here’s our stand-out takeaways from 2019:


Blue LED lighting increases ageing

Prolonged exposure to blue light, such as from LED lighting and devices such as mobile phones, could be affecting your longevity, even if it’s not shining in your eyes. A study by Oregon State University suggests that the blue wavelengths produced by LEDs damage cells in the brain as well as retinas. The work involved testing the effects of light on a common fruit fly, an important model organism because of the cellular and developmental mechanisms it shares with humans.



You can use Bluetooth for location-tracking

Earlier this year, Bluetooth unvieled a direction-finding feature that means Bluetooth-enabled lights could be used for way finding, location tracking and proximity services. The feature allows devices to determine the direction of a Bluetooth signal, thereby enabling the development of so-called ‘proximity applications’ such as asset tracking. The launch of Bluetooth location-tracking will rival Philip’s YellowDot programme which allows certified LED luminaires containing YellowDot drivers to be interoperable with Philips’ technology.



You can make luminaires from concrete

The world’s first light fittings made from light-emitting concrete were unveiled in April. The material is a mixture of fine concrete and tiny light-transmitting fibres. Each luminaire – which is made in Germany by Lucem – features hundreds of thousands of embedded optical fibres which transmit the light incident on the back through the material. The manufacturing process is highly complex and requires numerous steps, some of which are patented.  The light-transmitting concrete panels boast 200,000 light-transmitting fibres per square metre.



The right light can stop meat from discolouring

Even when stored and displayed in refrigerated cabinets, pre-packed meat discolours over time. UK supermarket Coop had a particular problem: the pre-packed meats – including sliced hams, chicken, salami and chorizo – started to discolour within 24 hours of shelf stacking.  Philips installed a version of its InteGrade narrow beam fixtures which use the low-powered LED chips in a 30-degree narrow beam arrangement. After eights day, the meats closest to the mullions showed minimal discolouration, though still at acceptable levels.



Light can boost the quantity of milk from cows

James Bruna of South Alston Farm in Cornwall is one of hundreds of UK diary farmers who has seen milk production boosted…by lighting. Bruna estimates that his investment in lights has increased yield by 2,000 litres per cow lactation period, an increase of a fifth over average. Milking cows exposed to 16 to 18 hours of light with a brightness of at least 160-200 lux followed by six to eight hours of darkness have consistently increased their milk yield by 10 per cent.



The luminaires for Crossrail will have an output of 58,000 lm

Luminaires on the new £15 billion Crossrail railway project in London will have an output of 58,000 lumens. The primary lighting in the new stations will rely on custom, high-output, uplight LED luminaires that indirectly illuminate the space via reflective surfaces on walls and ceilings, creating a sense of spaciousness. The indirect lighting concept created unique challenges for the project team while promising to result in a pleasing space for the millions that will use Crossrail, recently renamed the Elizabeth Line.



You can now get downlights with Alexa built in

The industry’s first downlight with built-in voice control by Amazon’s Alexa was unveiled by Eaton in the summer. While Alexa is becoming increasingly common for lighting control in the residential sector,  this is the first luminaire to have the voice-control assistant completely built into a standard-sized unit.As well as the LED unit and driver circuitry, the Eaton Halo Home Voice downlight includes two tiny microphones, a processor, and enough memory to support Alexa control.



To reduce jet lag, get a private jet

The next generation of private aeroplane is set to feature ‘the most advanced circadian lighting system in aviation’, said its maker Gulfstream. The lighting in the £58 million flagship G700 will recreate sunrise and sunset through thousands of white and amber LEDs, ‘gently coaxing’ its high net worth passengers into their new time zone and ‘greatly reducing the physical impact of traveling halfway around the world nonstop’, says the company. Oh, and it can fly 7,500 nautical miles at Mach 0.85.



Blue and red lighting keeps office workers alert

A combination of blue light in the morning and red light in the afternoon is best for keeping office workers alert, a study showed us this year. Researchers from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the U.S. General Services Administration have just published the latest in a series of analyses exploring how light impacts alertness during the day and the quality of sleep. The study tested a special luminaire developed by the LRC.



British lights may get a new symbol after Brexit

UK manufacturers of lighting may replace the CE mark in the British market with a new ‘UK Conformity Assured’ symbol in the event of a no-deal Brexit. If there is no agreement between the EU and the British government at the end of 2020, the UKCA symbol could start appearing on luminaires. It is designed to assure buyers that the lighting equipment complies will all the relevant standards. The rules will mirror those which currently apply for the CE marking.