Feature, IoT/Smart Lighting

How did my predictions for lighting in 2019 fare?

Predictions can be a hazardous business, especially in the uncertain lighting market. But sustainability, modularity and consolidation are all set to be continuing trends in the coming 12 months, says online Lux Review editor Ray Molony

This time last year I set out what I predicted would be the big trends in the lighting industry for the coming 12 months. It’s a hazardous game, predictions, especially in a remarkably uncertain market with many variables. With that in mind, let’s mark my homework from last year…

 

The supply chain will break down TRUE, PARTLY

I said that the client-specifier-manufacturer-wholesaler-contractor supply chain, familiar to us all, would warp under the strain of direct-buying FMs and margin-chasing contractors bullying manufacturers for rebates. And while this has partly happened, ‘break down’ is clearly overstating the case.

 

Power Line Communication will go mainstream FALSE

I foresaw a world in which power line communication would become a widely-adopted and popular alternative to cabled and wireless lighting control. Well, I was wrong. It’s a niche application that suits certain building topologies and specific applications, and it looks like it will stay niche.

 

Consolidation will accelerate TRUE

I asserted this time last year that the acquisition of iGuzzini by Fagerhult wouldn’t be the last major takeover in the lighting industry, and guess what? I was right. Falling prices is continuing to drive consolidation. Most eye-catching was Signify’s billion-quid purchase from Eaton of Cooper Lighting Solutions.

 

Bluetooth Mesh will gain traction TRUE

I forecast that Bluetooth mesh technology’s entry into the premier league of leading wireless protocols would be a smooth one and I was right, but you could argue I wasn’t sticking my neck out too much on this one. What will be interesting to watch in 2020 will how Bluetooth-pioneer Casambi pivots in this space to retain its leadership position.

 

VR will arrive as a design tool FALSE

I speculated that virtual reality would be the hot new design tool of 2019 and something to get clients excited about the possibilities of lighting in their buildings. While I fully expect VR to go mainstream at some stage, 2019 was not that year.

 

Visual comfort will move up the agenda TRUE

I wagered that the emphasis on the energy-saving narrative of LED lighting would lose its lustre and that the quality of that lighting would come to the fore. Glare and flicker would be major baddies while a premium would be put on high CRIs and appropriate colour temperatures. There is lots of evidence that major clients and suppliers are taking a lead on this.

 

Smart hubs will be cut out TRUE

I predicted that the tangle of twinkling ‘smart hubs’ and ‘intelligent bridges’ you need to get your lamps connected to the internet would become a thing of the past. The trend was led by the release early in 2019 of the C by GE lamps and was followed by a wave of lighting which connected directly to Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s HomeKit and even Siri.

 

Self-learning control will arrive FALSE

I was dazzled by the stunning success of Nest’s digital thermostats and surmised that lighting controllers too, would learn about a user’s habits over time and anticipate changes. Intuitive control seemed to me to be the logical next step. I was encouraged when Helvar introduced its Active+ system, but overall this wasn’t a trend in 2019.

 

1970s design is back FALSE

I prophesied that the big trend in interiors would be a return to the 1970s but this time with better materiality and softer colours. I said product designers would ‘blow the cobwebs off Concord and iGuzzini catalogues from the era’ in the search for inspiration. Well, they didn’t. But hey, I’m a guy who thinks Gap is still trendy – what do I know about fashion?

 

Modular design will spread TRUE

In January 2019 I wrote: ‘LED luminaire makers can’t believe their luck. They’ve got away with integral products where extracting a failed driver or light source is harder than getting compensation from Ryanair. Expect Eco Design legislation to tighten and put pressure on manufacturers to have deconstruct-able luminaires’. Major brands are now working on modular luminaires  – expect to see the fruits at Light + Building in March.

 

  • I make that four ‘falses’, five ‘trues’ and one ‘partly true’. Phew! So I’ll be more modest in my predictions for 2020. I suggest colour-tuning in offices will go mainstream, that zero-blue lighting will become a ‘thing’, and that the industry will – finally – wake up to its problem with waste. So what’s YOUR prediction for 2020?