The Future of Lighting

In a recent issue of Fast Company, the editors and 27 judges including MoMA’s curator and the lead designer at Facebook identified 56 finalists for their 2012 Innovation By Design Awards. Two of the innovations were light bulbs, a CFL and LED. Also, I think it’s important to note that both of the products were created as the result of a collaboration between by a design company and manufacturer, a pretty awesome mash-up with with everything focused on an optimal customer experience.


Hulger Design x Samuel Wilkinson. The Plumen took three years of development to bring to market, and it was worth it.

Switch75 Lightbulb
Switch Lighting x Lunar This LED bulb casts as much light as a 75-watt incandescent, is dimmable and instant-on – made possible by a liquid-cooling system. Learn more.
These two examples focus on design, however we have also observed impressive innovation in regard to technology. Creations such as the LIFX, a WiFi enabled, multi-color, energy efficient LED light bulb that you control with your iPhone or Android.

Or even Spark, a simple product that connects your lights to the internet so you can control them from a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

These last two examples reveal an emerging trend – that start-up companies are the force behind innovation in the lighting industry. But is that true? What do companies like GE Lighting have planned? Knowing that GE was born from the invention of the world’s first affordable incandescent light bulb and a pioneer in LED technology – innovation in lighting is just getting started.

We’re also seeing innovation come from colleges and universites around the world, such as Carnegie Mellon University. Ozan Tonguz, a telecommunications researcher at Carnegie Mellon turned to nature for an innovative solution to gridlock. Tonguz’s company, Virtual Traffic Lights, recently patented an algorithm that directs traffic at busy junctions.

As cars approach the intersection, they use dedicated short-range communications to quickly exchange information on their number and direction of travel. The largest group of vehicles is given an in-car green light. Cars in the other cluster see a red light and have to wait. As soon as the biggest group of cars passes through the intersection, the next biggest group is given the green light. Simulations over the past three years have shown the system could reduce commute time for urban workers between 40 to 60 per cent during rush hour.

Learn more about Virtual Traffic Lights here.

The future looks bright with lighting that is brilliantly designed, energy-efficient, adaptable and customizable by need, and also digitally integrated. Further, mobile technology that empowers us with complete control or smart technology that is intuitive and reacts passively to the environment.