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FROM LANTERN TO Li-Fi – THE EVOLUTION OF LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY

For centuries, the sun was the natural source of light and the only time when actual productive work took place. However, invention of gas and electric lamps in the 18th century expanded the number of labor hours per day. Thus, the invention of artificial lighting was both an economic and a powerful social development.

The production and application of artificial light is one of the greatest achievements in science and technology and by far outranks any other invention by mankind.

Today, we cannot imagine a life without 24 hours lighting. It is a way of life and is so readily available that we do not appreciate enough, how at one touch we can transform night into day. However, this was not the case always. People depended on fire and oil lamps for light at night until the early 1800’s. One name that almost everybody recons with is of, Sir Thomas Edison, the American inventor who revolutionized electric lighting with his discovery of incandescent light in the 17th century.


In the 17th century, Edison established that electricity could be used as the primary power source for both indoor and outdoor lighting. The next two centuries saw the emergence of fluorescent lamps, Mercury-vapor and High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps.

The 20th century witnessed yet another ground-breaking invention with the discovery of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Technology. The first LED was invented in the 1960s by General Electric scientist Nick Holonyak who called it “the magic one."


Since then, modern lighting has undergone serious technological advancements. Now, the usability of lights, spans beyond just providing visibility and space illuminance. Also, rising environmental concerns and the need to meet energy demands efficiently, has compelled regulators to gradually phase out the bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient lighting sources.


LED lighting is a solid state light (SSL) that doesn’t require a glass housing like traditional bulbs and produces light by converting electrical current using a semiconductor.

Advanced LED lights and fluorescent lamps of the 21st century, provide huge energy and environmental conservation benefits. The shift towards more energy efficient technologies has completely disrupted incumbents such as Philips, Siemens, General Electric, which previously dominated the traditional lamps and lighting industry [1]. In September, 2012, the European Union banned the sale of clear incandescent bulbs with 40w and higher. US and China followed suit by phasing out incandescent bulbs in 2015 and 2017 respectively [2].


The UAE, with its sporadic growth in infrastructure, hospitality and industrial sectors, has spurred the LED market in the Middle East. Also, a ban on incandescent bulbs in 2014 [3], mandated all existing UAE establishments to install LED or LED equivalent lighting.

Backed by ambitious government initiatives, the UAE LED lighting market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1 per cent from 2019 to 2023 [4]. This law, engendered a plethora of opportunities in UAE’s commercial hotspot – Dubai.


The LED technology is multifaceted and therefore covers a large spectrum of applications in indoor and outdoor lighting. The various energy efficient lighting products made available based on usage are LEDs Lamps (LED Reflectors, LED Tubes); Luminaires (Downlights, Troffers, Outdoor Area Lights, Roadway Fixtures, Spot Lights and Other Luminaires). Outdoor lighting is applied in areas such as façade lighting, street lighting, parking and garage lots.


Intelligent LED office lighting is the closest alternative to natural sunlight. It enables maintaining specific lux levels that result in maximum efficiency of workers. LED’s also dramatically reduce glare and reflection that cause headaches resulting in 5% increase in reading speed and a reduction in spelling errors [5].


Whilst, LED technology has several environmental and cost saving benefits, there is some research supported fact about LED’s influence on human energy, mood, vitality and work performance

Studies elucidate that switching to LED lighting in the office results in an increased work productivity, increased health, happiness and overall morale of office employees. This, when combined with project cost and energy savings generated, results in up to 90% overall savings by switching to LED lighting.


The growing awareness for the benefits of LED lighting such as no mercury usage, CO2 emission reduction, huge energy savings and lower electricity bill is making these products increasingly attractive.

Furthermore, one of the major reason for rising demand for LED are upcoming events in and around UAE such as Dubai Expo 2020, UAE Vision 2021, Qatar Fifa World Cup 2022, Abu Dhabi retrofitting all street lighting, Dubai retrofitting 30,000 buildings till 2030 which increased the demand for such products in the market.


This has boosted the interest of major players including Philips, Osram/Ledvance, GE/Tungsram, Cree/Ruud Lighting Arabia, who have aligned their market strategies according to ongoing and expected future trends.


LED’s have laid the foundation for the next revolution in the lighting industry, beyond illumination. A new era of connected Intelligent lighting systems is dawning that will light-based communications.


The technology is called Li-Fi or Lighting Fidelity and is a mobile wireless technology that uses light rather than radio frequencies to transmit data.

Li-Fi will add a new dimension to public wireless connectivity and bring more cost-effective deployments with speeds far in excess of WiFi’s capabilities.


The increased use of LED’s is a positive enabler of the UAE’s Li-Fi market, that is expected to grow at CAGR of 47.22% between 2018-2023.” Now, is the best time to make investments in Smart Lighting technology.


It makes sense and is simply sustainable.




References


C. Bryant, "Financial Times," 16 December 2012. [Online]. Available: https://www.ft.com/content/962714b6-4611-11e2-ae8d-00144feabdc0.

"Easy Light Bulbs," [Online]. Available: https://www.easy-lightbulbs.com/lighting-guides/phase-out-of-incandescent-bulbs/.

"Zwaya.com," 8 April 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.zawya.com/uae/en/business/story/UAE_LED_lighting_market_to_grow_by_121-SNG_141968119/.

"UK Energy Lighting," [Online]. Available: https://ukenergylighting.co.uk/benefits-of-led-lighting-in-offices/.

"Middle East Electricity," [Online]. Available: https://www.middleeastelectricity.com/content/dam/Informa/Middle-East-Electricity/en/pdf/MENAIndustrialLightingReport2018.pdf.