Internet of Lighting
Semantic Lighting: Connecting the Physical and Digital World
The evolution of lighting technology is giving birth to amazing new possibilities. Where lighting once played a purely functional role in our lives, it can now be used to communicate, create and inspire. The next stage in this evolution is Semantic Lighting: an illumination system that is connecting the physical and digital worlds.
So what are semantic lighting systems? Simply put, they are lighting systems that are aware of what they are illuminating. Using sensors, they analyse the space around them and gather information about nearby objects. This information is then used to adapt the lighting, projecting imagery that can help people to complete tasks more easily.
For example, semantic lighting can be applied at the dinner table, using sensor-driven illumination to enhance the dining experience. If the food is too hot to eat, the system projects a cautionary red “hot” logo onto the dishes. When the food has cooled sufficiently, the system registers the change and projects a green “thumbs up” image on to the dishes, indicating that it is safe to begin eating.
The why and how of Semantic lighting
Semantic lighting has been developed to overcome the limitations of conventional illumination. Traditionally, light fixtures have always been static devices that do not react to the environment. However, different people and different tasks require varying amounts of light, so a fixed light setting can often be impractical.
For this reason, Semantic lighting has been developed in three application areas:
- human-aware lighting, where the light adapts to meet the physical needs of the individual. This technology could be applied in many ways, for example to give support to people with limited eyesight.
- context-aware lighting, wherein the quality and quantity of light is adjusted to help carry out a task in a particular environment. For example, a physician may benefit from lighting that makes certain colours stand out, helping them to carry out examinations.
- semantic task-aware lighting, which assists people in carrying out tasks by projecting videos, text, images and other media. For example, if you were trying to fold up a map, the lighting system could project lines upon the paper to show you how to fold it correctly.
Creating the Internet of Light
By adding this intelligence to lighting, we can create new ways to interact with the digital world. Many people are aware of the concept of the “Internet of things,” where everyday objects are being connected to the online world. With semantic lighting, we can create an Internet of light, ”where illumination adds connected intelligence to everything it shines on.
This concept has game-changing applications that could connect the physical and online retail worlds. In a room equipped with semantic lighting, you could use your unmodified smartphone to direct a “light cursor” into an object you are interested in, like a CD or item of clothing. After using the light cursor to highlight the object, your phone would then communicate with the lighting system and find that product online — making it quick and easy to purchase things that catch your attention.