Advancements in technology have created better solutions for our home, including lighting. We have certainly come a long way from the traditional household lightbulb.
Lighting at home can now be integrated with a smart home system and controlled with the tap of a button on our phones.
To find out more about smart home lighting solutions, we sat down with Aditya Vikram Bharadwaj, Product Marketing Manager at Signify (formerly Philips Lighting).
An expert in the field of smart home devices, Aditya shared insights to guide our decision-making in lighting for the health and well-being of our loved ones at home.
Katherine Sng, Bubbamama (KS): Firstly, could you share with us what is smart home lighting?
Aditya Vikram Bharadwaj (AVB): Smart home lighting is an advanced way of illuminating homes to give you greater control, functionality, energy savings, connectivity and more.
Instead of using traditional wall switches, you can automate your lights or control them remotely using smart LED bulbs that are connected to an app, smart home assistant, or other smart accessories.
Smart lights are usually connected via a wireless system in the home such as an existing WiFi network, ZigBee or Bluetooth.
KS: What are the benefits of implementing smart home lighting?
AVB: Smart LED lights offer a whole plethora of benefits not possible with traditional lighting, with automation and control being probably the most well-known advantages.
Automation enables you to set timers to turn on and off an individual or a group of smart LED bulbs at a specific time without physical intervention. When you are away from home, you can also configure your lights to be turned on and off to mimic presence to keep intruders away.
Smart lighting gives you greater control over your lights. For example, with the Philips Hue Smart Lighting, you can switch on and off or dim your lights, select scenes and perform other functions via the Hue mobile app. Besides eliminating the need to wire a dimmer switch into your wall, you can also see the status of all the lights in your home from anywhere and no longer need to worry about leaving an unused light on.
Connectivity is another notable benefit. Using your smart lighting system with other connected devices such as cameras, speakers, thermostats or home assistants enables you to create and enjoy a smart home.
Smart lighting also improves the energy efficiency of your lighting system as smart LED bulbs last significantly longer and generate less heat than traditional light bulbs. This helps to not just shave costs off energy bills but reduce carbon emissions.
In addition to the above, you will also be able to preset and customise light scenes with the tap of just a button to create various mood lighting to suit different occasions. The colour, brightness and temperature of the lights can be customised to change the ambience of any room.
KS: What are the latest lighting innovations that are essential for a smart home?
AVB: The basic building block of smart home lighting is the smart LED light bulb. For example, Philips Hue offers a wide range of smart light bulbs designed to give every space in the room, whether it is the living room, kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, perfect lighting.
The other critical innovations accompanying the smart light bulb are smart hubs for connecting devices to lights, and apps for controlling lights.
In the Philips Hue system, the Hue Bridge acts as the smart hub and the Hue app allows you to control your lights conveniently. Capable of linking up to 50 Philips Hue lights and accessories, the Bridge is essentially the heart of the entire system.
Signify launched the revamped Hue app in June this year. Fully re-built from the ground up, the new app has more than a hundred improvements to performance, functionality and communication, giving users a greater level of control over their home lighting.
These three innovations form a powerful personal smart lighting system that can completely transform your experience at home every day. It can gently wake you up in the morning, get you energised for the day ahead and even give you a warm welcome when you arrive home.
At Signify, the world leader in lighting, we never stop creating new innovations. For example, we recently launched Philips Hue + Spotify, the first deep integration of lighting and music to give you a unique immersive light and music experience at home. Our algorithm analyses the metadata of each song and makes the lights flash, dim, brighten and colour change along with the beat, mood, genre and tempo of any piece of music on Spotify.
KS: Do you have any tips on how to choose luminaires for a smart home?
AVB: With the wide number of smart LED lights available in the market, it is indeed not so easy to know what to buy. A good approach is to buy from brands that provide lighting that will cover all areas of the home. This provides the user with versatility – it will be easy to start with converting one area and then gradually expand to other areas in the home.
Furthermore, smart luminaires are compatible with different networks to suit different levels of commitment. If you are just starting your smart home journey, you can look for smart luminaires that have Bluetooth connectivity.
Then, if you want to expand and convert more areas of your home to use smart lighting, you can also purchase accessories to enhance your experience.
For example, you can buy and add on a Philips Hue bridge separately if you are planning to own multiple Hue lights and want them to correlate.
KS: How does lighting affect our health and well-being?
AVB: Other than providing vision, lighting affects us emotionally and biologically. As light guides the body’s circadian system, it can have psychological and physiological effects on us. Good lighting is also essential in regulating our body’s production of hormones such as melatonin or cortisol which tell our body when it is time to sleep or time to be alert.
Lighting also directly contributes to our comfort and ability to perform tasks. Studies have shown that bad lighting is associated with negative physical and mental health effects.
It is important for us to access natural light as it reduces stress, improves cognitive function, creativity and improves well-being. This has made it a key component of biophilic design or the concept of bringing nature indoors by including nature in the interior design of a space. Through using indoor lighting to mimic natural light, it creates a healthy, engaging and inspiring environment to improve well-being.
This is especially important because 90% of our time is spent indoors. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to stay home more due to lockdowns and restrictions, and working and studying from home are expected to stay as the norm moving forward. The overall mental health of Singaporeans has also been affected due to the pandemic. Thus, it is crucial not to neglect proper lighting.
KS: What are some commonly overlooked problems with indoor lighting in homes and workplaces in Singapore that lead to bad health?
AVB: One commonly overlooked issue is the type of lights used in our lighting systems. Many places still use harsh fluorescent lights which can cause eye strain and flickering which can cause headaches. Daily exposure to such conditions can reduce productivity and lead to an unhealthy environment and unhappy people. A good solution is LED lights as they do not flicker.
Another issue is the “one-size-fits-all” approach for lighting. Many people do not realize that different situations and needs call for different types of lighting; and different individuals also prefer different lighting solutions. It is important to give individuals the ability to adjust lighting according to their preferences to optimise their productivity and enhance their well-being.
It is timely for us to review the quality of the lights used at home for the benefit of our well-being, especially in the post-pandemic era.
A Philips global sleep study found that 57% of Singaporeans had their sleep directly impacted by the pandemic and only 21% of respondents felt well-rested most of the time when waking up in the morning. The increasing amount of screen time has also led to inconsistent sleep habits.
KS: Can you share with me some examples of how lighting innovations have been used in Singapore to improve health and well-being?
AVB: Currently, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has plans to change all road lights to smart energy-efficient LED lights by 2022. These lights will last longer, can be remotely controlled and provide effective lighting for the safety of drivers. These lights are also responsive to weather changes. The system could also be used to collect and transmit data on the environment to support the delivery of public services, improving the welfare of the nation.
Phillips and Sentosa were the first to work together to provide innovative LED street lights in Singapore back in 2016. Covering a distance of 3.4 km, the lights provided energy savings of up to 50% and reduced downtimes. The enhanced visibility provided by the lights increased public safety especially during times of haze due to its anti-glare properties and long-throw, while reducing light pollution.
KS: Could you share some tips with parents on how to improve the lighting at home to create a good environment for studying, working, playing and sleeping?
AVB: One good rule is to keep the blinds or curtains open during the day to allow natural light to flood the room. Studies have shown that exposure to natural lighting affects our mood, energy level and comfort.
Making the proper light choice is important as well. Flexible lights such as the Philips SceneSwitch and Philips Hue with Bluetooth LED bulbs provide the option to choose between different lighting modes.
For instance, you can choose bright lighting if your purpose is to enhance focus or natural light if you want a slightly warmer ambience and a cosy warm glow to relax after a day’s hard work.
You can use these light bulbs together with Philips EyeComfort products to create ideal, healthy lighting conditions for studying, working, playing and resting without the need to invest in more than one lighting solution.
KS: What is the research and development in lighting that we can learn from to maintain our health and well-being?
AVB: Research has established that lighting has a definitive psychological and physiological effect on our health and well-being. By understanding the positive and negative effects different types of lighting has on us, we can adopt the proper lighting to ensure the creation of a healthy environment.
An aspect of lighting that has grown in prominence recently is UV-C. The pandemic has accelerated R&D in the area of UV-C lighting due to a significant increase in demand for disinfecting solutions. Traditionally used by hospitals and laboratories for professional disinfection, UV-C lighting can now be used in homes to disinfect rooms or objects, safely and effectively.
For example, Signify’s consumer-grade Philips UV-C disinfection desk lamp is an effective, safe and fast way of disinfecting homes. It can deactivate viruses, bacteria, mould and spores as well as disinfect rooms in a matter of minutes.
Signify has earlier worked with Boston University to validate that its UV-C light source can inactivate 99% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 on a surface with an exposure time of just six seconds.
It is important to only use UV-C lights that follow stringent safety guidelines. For example, the Philips UV-C desk lamp has been integrated with safety features such as sensors that turn off the light upon the detection of any movement in the room. In addition, you will also be provided with step-by-step voice guidance that ensures your safety.
A lot of work is also being carried out in the area of biophilic lighting. Advancements in this area will be really important for Singapore, as we lack access to natural light due to the greater amount of time spent indoors in this remote working era.
Making the Smart Home Lighting Decision
With factors to consider such as your family’s unique needs, your familiarity and your commitment to technology, you can then make the right choice for your home. As light plays a significant role in our health and well-being, it’s important that we select the right kind of setup that we and our loved ones could use for the years to come.
About Aditya: Based in Singapore, Aditya Vikram Bharadwaj is the Product Marketing Manager at Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) and an expert in the field of smart home devices. In the last two years, Singapore has grown to achieve the second rank globally in the number of components per household and top rank globally in the number of smart devices per square km area. He has over seven years of extensive experience in different regions across Asia. Aditya is trained as an engineer with post-graduate qualifications in Marketing Strategy from Delhi, India.