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  • Writer's pictureJosh Veblen

Next Generation Lighting Technologies

Updated: Jan 7

So, what’s new?

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart sensor technology has prompted several new lighting advancements.

Lighting interfaces are becoming simpler as the systems themselves become more complex. Highly effective sensors enable lighting fixtures to sense and react to what’s happening around them. This has expanded the focus of lighting management beyond mere energy savings. Building owners and facility managers are now able to integrate new lighting technologies into their building systems to improve occupant comfort, productivity, safety, and overall well-being. Here are two recent advancements.

Human-Centric LED Lighting

Daylight is one of the most important sources of energy for our biological (circadian) rhythm. Humans are conditioned to live in harmony with the Earth’s daily light cycle. Sunlight makes us alert in the morning. Darkness at night makes us sleepy. A lack of daylight can disrupt our day/ night (circadian) rhythm, negatively impacting performance as well as physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

As a result, a growing trend in the industry is LED-based human-centric illumination (HCL).

Traditional artificial light cannot mirror natural light's intensity, timing, and color. Human-centric lighting is the art of creating lighting that mimics the natural daylight cycle.

To achieve this HCL combines intelligent lighting controls with color-tunable LED fixtures which can be adjusted to simulate sunlight through correlated color temperatures.

Architects, designers, and builders are increasingly adopting human-centric lighting to help workers become more efficient and productive. HCL is especially beneficial in commercial spaces where occupants cannot access natural light. HCL has been shown to increase alertness and concentration in offices and schools, resulting in higher performance and productivity from employees and students.

In hospitals, psychiatric wards, and nursing homes, it has also been shown to improve patient care and shorten recovery times. Blue-colored light encourages alertness in areas where healthcare professionals operate.

Red light has the opposite effect helping patients relax and sleep at night.

Airlines are installing LED-based HCL systems to provide an enhanced flight experience to the passengers by customizing light during flight activities such as boarding, mealtimes, and sleep times, and alerting passengers as they prepare for landing.

In addition to color tuning HCL employs occupancy and dimming sensors to brighten or reduce lighting according to the amount of available daylight. Occupancy sensors automatically turn the lights on and off depending on if the room is in use. These sensors reduce electrical usage, saving companies money on utility bills.


LiFi is a revolutionary lighting technology that uses light rather than radio frequencies for data transmission. The technology uses an LED light bulb to emit pulses of light, which is undetectable to the human eye. Data can travel to and from receivers with those emitted pulses. Receivers collect information and interpret the transmitted data. This process is similar to decoding Morse code—but at a much faster rate—millions of times a second. LiFi transmission speeds can go over 100 Gbps, 14 times faster than WiGig (currently the world’s fastest WiFi).

LiFi is more reliable, virtually interference-free, and more secure than radio technology such as Wi-Fi or cellular.

Transmitting data using light has clear advantages over radio waves when working in areas susceptible to electromagnetic interference such as hospitals and aircraft cabins.

Since the data can be stored anywhere there is LED light, streetlights could be used as LiFi hotspots. Also, since the light sends the data, a LiFi network can be contained in a single physical room or building reducing the possibility of a remote network attack.

The LiFi market is expected to grow quickly over the years few years. The technology is supported by a global ecosystem of companies including General Electric and Panasonic.

Keeping Up

Building codes and regulations are changing in response to new lighting technologies. If you're considering upgrading the lighting infrastructure in your building, it makes sense to partner with an energy services contractor with a clear understanding of both the latest technology options and local code requirements.

Alco Building Solutions can help. Our expertise in lighting system design and implementation is perhaps best proven by our many happy repeat customers—and the referrals we receive continuously. We work diligently to ensure we select the optimum pairing of fixtures and controls to meet each customer's aesthetic, functional, and financial goals.

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