Connected home, illumination and contractors
The lighting industry in Australia has undergone significant changes in recent years. Technology has advanced in commercial and residential applications, and demand for smart lighting has increased.
The development and miniaturisation of technology has created enabled contractors to fit existing buildings with connected lights without re-wiring or installing wall controls, which makes it more accessible to the wider market. A few years ago, only a small per cent of new residential property had some degree of automation. Today, this figure has grown as accessibility enables smart lighting to be installed in any home or commercial premises, not just new builds.
With the growing awareness, affordability and accessibility of smart lighting, the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a reality. Growth in sales for Google Home and the introduction of Amazon Alexa in Australia have opened up smart home technology to consumers, not just installers. Demand for devices to connect to each other and be controlled via voice or a smart device has increased significantly and has influenced the change in lighting technology. It’s expected the average Australian household will have 30 connected devices, 14 of those being IoT ‘at home’ devices by 2021, according to Telyste’s 2017 report.
Advances in Wi-Fi technology and computing processing power have enabled the development of a smart distributed intelligence platform. This provides residential and commercial buildings with a suite of intelligent lighting control functions bringing together infrastructure, sensors, devices and people into a single unified smart environment.
Lights can be programmed to change intensity and white colour to complement a person’s natural body clock or circadian rhythm. Human-centric lighting allows luminaires to adapt to mimic natural light, which can enhance vision, wellbeing and performance. Applications such as offices, aged-care facilities and clinics are opting for this technology to provide a high level of care to staff and patients.
Unlike common smart devices such as speakers or televisions, a suite of smart lights won’t require continuous streaming of data to complete a command from start to finish.
Generation Z, known as the ‘iGeneration’, are growing up in a fast-paced world where technology is constantly evolving and adapting within short periods of time. As they enter the property market there will be an expectation that homes will already have a high level of automation and connectivity built in. The demand for whole home automation will increase and the skills of contractors will expand and merge into other areas, such as networking.
As technology advances at high speed and consumer accessibility increases, unregulated, cheap products will be a future challenge for the industry. Manufacturers are constantly improving technology and safety to meet the evolving Australian electrical standards and sell through a reputable supplier, but products from overseas do not always meet these requirements.
Commercial and residential buildings moved away from inefficient lighting such as dichroic low-voltage lighting to LED luminaries, providing long-lasting light. However, new smart LED lighting technology is constantly improving and evolving, providing commercial and residential applications with greater efficiencies, health and wellbeing benefits, and integrated automated control.
Preparing for the future, contractors should be aware of current and future technology. Knowing what’s possible to achieve and becoming familiar with technology, while understanding what hardware and software are required, will enable a smoother integration into an application.
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