The future in a new light
The key role of light
Mr Möckel, Mr Ludwig, what used to be just about brightening things up is a science in itself these days: lighting is said to increase people’s personal well-being, contribute to more efficiency in business, enhance security – light is even thought to heal illnesses.
Is that maybe taking things too far?
Florian Möckel: Not at all. In the past people didn’t give light the credit it deserves. These days we know just how sensitive organisms are to light and the effects that light can have. And thanks to LED technology and the ways we can control it, we now have technical options for putting these new findings into practice. Ludwig Leuchten is active in a number of these areas. What science predicts for the future has long been reality for us.
Erich Ludwig: Take office space for example. In the past, lighting in offices was mainly to make the workplace brighter and ensure all areas had optimal lighting conditions. These days we go far beyond this. We now focus on employee well-being. Today we can use the latest lighting systems to create a comfortable work environment, one where staff members enjoy working and are more efficient.
How is this achieved?
Ludwig: We do this by using special control devices to vary the colour and intensity of the light, allowing us to recreate daylight and support natural biorhythms. The lighting can be made more stimulating in the morning by adding more blue components – just like natural sunlight. We use warmer colours to help people regenerate. This is called human-centric lightning (HCL).
Surely HCL has more potential applications than just office lighting?
Ludwig: That’s correct – this concept was first used in care homes for the elderly. And together with our partners, we’ve installed these kinds of lighting systems in many other areas such as lecture halls, public buildings and airports.
What can this type of lighting control do for airports?
Ludwig: Imagine you’re sitting in an airport lounge on a grey, rainy day and your flight has been delayed. How would bright, glaring lighting make you feel? Restless, unsatisfied, maybe a little stressed. Subdued lighting creates a more relaxed atmosphere. But terminals are often fast-paced environments. Using more blue components in the lighting can have a stimulating effect. Sensors can also be used to track the flow of passengers as well as outside factors like the weather, providing feedback which can be used to control the lighting.
Möckel: The same applies to hospitals. Someone waking up straight after surgery certainly needs different lighting to someone already well on their way to recovery. Here, too, lighting control can be used to tailor lighting to different people’s needs.
And how does the control system know what kind of light is needed at any given time?
Ludwig: There are a variety of options for this. Manual systems, automated control using individually configured programmes and sensors, maybe even a mobile app that detects how long a person has been sleeping and uses this information to control the colour of the light. Or cameras that record how an employee might be feeling by recognising facial expressions and then adjust the lighting accordingly. There are a lot of options in terms of technology.
Industry associations are optimistic and expect HCL to capture high market shares within only years. What do things stand at the moment? How are these solutions being received in the market?
Möckel: At Ludwig Leuchten we’re confident that controlled lighting systems will play a key role in the industry in the future. It’s our job now to convince customers of the added benefits these solutions bring. Although the incremental costs are often relatively low, market acceptance isn’t all that high yet.
How do you win customers over?
Möckel: It’s all about satisfaction and well-being, which are more and more important in our society. We’re already experiencing intense competition to attract the best minds in the business. And anyone who talks to young people quickly realises that money and prestige aren’t the only things motivating their career decisions. Employers that offer great working environments clearly have the competitive edge. And modern lighting systems really add to workplace well-being. The same applies to hospitals as they vie for patients, or hotels that want to set themselves apart from competitors. And shopping centres, schools, universities, public buildings…
Ludwig: Energy is another factor driving modern control solutions. Even today, offices, factories and public places are often illuminated uniformly and brightly. New systems mean light can be used cleverly only where it’s needed. So sensors and controls help save energy.
What do these new possibilities mean for you as a producer of lighting solutions?
Möckel: We have to take a more holistic approach in our thinking in future. We’re no longer a mere manufacturer of lighting technology, we’re a solutions provider. True to our motto: ‘More than lighting’. We show our customers all the options for lighting management, thinking ahead for them and preparing them to make the best use of innovations later down the line. Our experience in many large-scale and speciality projects gives us a competitive edge.
Ludwig: A holistic approach is key. In the future, why should we use our sensors just to control the lighting? Why not also control the heating and outdoor shading? The modular design of our products allows them to be integrated into a variety of systems used in modern facility management. That’s the future for which we’re already providing solutions.
You talk about the future. Say we think forward to ten, 20 years from now – what will light mean to us then?
Ludwig: We’re currently in the midst of a lighting revolution, a complete paradigm shift. And we’re nowhere near exhausting the possibilities. Why should beams of light coming from our lamps only shine in one direction? Why can’t we use them to carry data as well? Perhaps it will be possible to store light. We’ve already installed LED window frames for one customer, purely for decorative reasons – but if it were possible for LEDs to collect and store sunlight, it would open up whole new possibilities. We’re already in the early stages with organic LEDs.
It seems that the more options light offers us, the more the world around us is lighting up. More and more buildings are illuminated, more and more gardens are bathed in light, night and day. This has downsides as well as benefits. As a producer of lighting solutions, is light pollution an issue for you?
Erich Ludwig: It’s a big issue, one we’re working on intensively. Of course, technical developments mean we’re surrounded by more and more sources of light. But as a producer of lighting solutions, we can make sure that light is used in the right way. We can use reflectors and lenses to point light precisely to where it’s needed. Not only is this efficient, it reduces light scattering and light pollution.