At the 2014 Strategies in Light Europe conference, there was one recurring theme that I thought was very interesting: evolution vs. revolution. I think it is very important for people in the lighting industry to understand that LEDs in themselves are not a revolutionary (disruptive) technology that is changing the industry, but rather a natural evolutionary progression of light emitting materials/methods to create usable light. As presented by Dr. Thomas Knoop, the Managing Director of INTEGRATED, a technology is disruptive in an industry when it attacks the market by offering a different value driver (usually convenience or price) and not when it just fulfills the need of the average customer. The two charts provided below are visualizations of these ideas.
LEDs in lighting do not classically fit the bill of a disruptive technology. Especially at first, they were not adding much convenience to lighting, and were definitely not cheaper either. Of course, you could make the argument that they were much more energy efficient, but energy efficiency was also brought about by fluorescent technologies.
That being said, this does not mean that LED products have not already started revolutionizing the lighting market. If you look at the market today, next to the lamps and luminaires that are designed to mimic their incumbent counterparts exactly, you will notice the other connected and intelligent LED products that have started cropping up that do have an added value.
Being able to easily control light, not just for brightness but also for color temperature and CRI, is, in my opinion, one of the most revolutionary aspects of what LEDs have brought to the lighting industry. Not only will we be able to better control our overall comfort, but the potential to positively impact mood, safety, and health are all present and truly revolutionary.
If you would like to learn more about how smart lighting is evolving, please be sure to attend theSmart Lighting Track at the Strategies in Light Conference, which will take place February 24-26 in Las Vegas, NV.