How Digital Innovation Is Changing How We Experience Light [Future of Light]

Digital lighting technologies like LED offer completely new uses and applications of light.

As digital technologies find their way into nearly every facet of modern life, it is becoming clear that we are only beginning to understand their impact on our everyday experience. With the development of digital light technologies such as LED, disparate light sources can be connected to each other, and their data can be transmitted and analyzed, enabling unprecedented communication and controllability.

This new level of functionality empowers people to adjust lighting to fit moods, activities, and experiences. Such solutions speak to a growing ability to control one’s environment without affecting the integrity of a space. And while these interactions take place over a hidden network that many of us will never see, the resulting experiences change our relationship to the physical world. Being able to make lights talk to one another and their owners, highlight and elevate our human need for connectivity. Susanne Seitinger of Philips Color Kinetics tells us, “The interactive part of light can set up relationships between you, the infrastructure, the space and possibly other people.”

“The Internet Of Things” is defining how these relationships can develop. A web of connected devices and applications that can speak amongst themselves is changing the way people use light – in their homes, offices and cities. Nighttime is the obvious point of entry for such innovations because that is where light’s full capabilities are needed and can be appreciated. Seitinger adds, “We have a lot more ability to manage, design, and think about how people orient themselves at night because of the capabilities of digital lighting.” From entertaining a group to winding down before bed, digitized lighting technologies can enrich human connection after night falls.

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Ambify  is a mobile application that syncs with Philips hue to react to music being played and create dynamic in-room visuals in nearly infinite color combinations. It is uniquely designed for Philips Hue, a smart LED light bulb that can be controlled through an app using a smartphone or tablet. It brings an endless color palette into the home and advanced white light to help people relax, read, concentrate or energize and can be connected to the Internet for many more possibilities.

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Another example is StoryLight. Philips has teamed up with Disney to create StoryLight, an immersive lighting experience that sparks children’s imaginations through bedtime stories. Based also around Philips Hue, StoryLight synchronizes colored light with classic Disney stories read through an interactive iPad e-book application. As parents read with their child, colors light up to help bring the story to life, while multiple lights can be positioned throughout a room, working together to create a vibrant display.

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Though not exclusively a nighttime display, You Fade To Light is a lighting installation that highlights how light naturally attracts us to a space, drawing people together around shared experiences. An array of interactive OLEDs mirrors the shapes and movements of passersby in the lobby at the W Hotel in Tapei via a custom-made motion-tracking system. The wall encourages interaction between individuals and a space that is defined by both its transience and the constant presence of people and movement.

Digitized lighting technologies such as these show that an environment does not have to dictate behaviors or activities – instead, individuals can tailor their environments to their specific needs and desires.

The Future of Light series explores light’s potential to improve lives, build communities, and connect people in new and meaningful ways. Brought to you in partnership with Philips Lighting, a full report is available as an iOS and Android app or as a downloadable PDF.

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