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How home lighting will evolve

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In addition to the digital transformation changing the way we do business, we are starting to see the way it is changing our homes – especially in the way of lighting as it becomes more energy efficient, smarter and adapts to our lives.

In the era of digital transformation, technological trends such as mobility, cloud computing, IoT, and big data analytics is reshaping the operating environment for businesses as well as enabling people to be more productive in their professional and personal lives.

However, these same trends are also influencing the lighting industry. The development of home lighting for instance is being guided by technological evolution along with new research on how light affects us as human beings.

Here are five important trends we see in home lighting:

1.     Taking the best from the past

Warm, glowing, cozy light with the best of modern, efficient lighting technology.

The trend of heritage lighting design is enduring. People value the familiar shapes, the qualities of the warm decorative light from the past and the attention to authentic materials and details, it reflects a sense of belonging, comfort and the care for traditions.

LED vintage bulbs have the classic charm of filament bulbs with the benefits of modern LED lighting. Made of glass and with high-quality finishing they blend into home interiors, looking beautiful on and off. Warm glow dimmable LED lamps, behave in a familiar way as well. They dim down in the same way as the old incandescent bulbs did.

2. Flexible Light

Adaptive lighting that gives maximum flexibility for our multi-faceted lifestyles.

While the outer walls of our homes remain fixed for the most part, inside the home has become a constant evolving and vibrating hub. New family compositions, smaller housing and the many different activities taking place in the same spot, demand flexibility. Spaces need to easily adapt to changing activities, mind-states, and personal preferences.

One way of doing this is by making lighting portable, so you can simply bring the best light to the place you want. Portable lights, like the Philips candles have a rechargeable internal battery.

Another way of addressing versatility is by adjustable and modular lighting. An example of this is The Compendium light range designed by Daniel Rybakken for Luceplan. This elegant beam-like luminaire modestly disappears by day, and comes to life when lit – creating a quantity of light on surfaces, transforming spaces and making them look bigger. There is a floor standing version and a suspended version.

You can create the light you need by rotating parts to make direct light or bounce light of the wall or ceiling to get indirect light. The slim form factor supports compact and decluttered living by taking up a very small footprint.

3. Well-being Light

Light that behaves like Mother Nature to support our health and well-being in a busy and stressful world.

As well as light to create mood and atmosphere, we are learning more and more about the effect of light on our bodies and how it can influence our health.

Broadly speaking, bright light with blue in it, activates us and gives us energy and warm coloured light is relaxing and calms us down. It’s important for people to get enough light at certain times of the day, because this affects our biological rhythms.

Light recipes that support these biological rhythms, or mimic natural light effects can support our emotional and physical well-being. For example, lighting can help you to wake up and go to sleep naturally. It will help get you out of bed the way you like it, helping you start your day feeling refreshed.

In the morning, a light wake-up scene that mimics the effect of sunrise can help you wake up naturally, instead of being woken up by the loud sound of an alarm clock. In the evening, relaxing warm white light helps you to unwind, relax and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

4. Experience Light

Light that gives you a new experience of your home, without having to physically change it.

There is a growing need of people to own less and experience as well as share more. Light is intangible, yet can create a rich experience. Light can be a tool of expression in your home – you can use light as a way to express your personality; who you are, what you feel and the stories you want to tell.

Light scenes with warm, cool and soft colour lighting can instantly change the look and atmosphere of your room. Every new season could bring a different feel in the interior with new color palettes and scenes, without bringing new home décor items in your house.

This trend really puts the focus on the light experience itself. The light fixture is neutral and the light brings an adaptable decorative layer of light to your home. This can be achieved by placing or integrating lighting strips and LEDs into objects, furniture and or the architecture.

5. ‘Talk to me’ light

Lighting you can interact with in simple and pleasant ways – to make the most of sophisticated new lighting.

Today, we can already control lights with smart devices by performing functions such as turning the lights on and off or dimming to the desired brightness for a perfect ambiance. For the longer term, companies like Philips Lighting is looking at the future ways we will use and interact with lighting as part of the smart home.

We have been trying out different ways of controlling light and music. One installation we built is called Aura. Many people tried it at light festivals in New Zealand, London and Eindhoven. They could control the light and music by hand gestures – a bit like a conductor of an orchestra. One small movement creates a large reaction.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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