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Paul James / Pete Brewis - Editorial Comment

June / July 2014

An introduction to the latest issue from the editor Paul James and deputy editor Pete Brewis ...

Paul James, editor, writes:  
‘If you wanna be the best, so much better than the rest, integration’s what you need!’ To paraphrase the famous (if you’re British) theme tune of Record Breakers by Roy Castle, that is what seemed to be on everyone’s lips at this year’s Light + Building exhibition and indeed forms a central part of our 50-page review in this issue. Initially it was refreshing not to constantly hear the ‘LED’ word, particularly when it related to how many more lumens per watt you could squeeze out of a light engine. But after a while, I began to yearn for such tedious talk of yesteryear when I realised that all this ‘connected light’ talk may not be too relevant to what the professional lighting designer has in store.

At best, the ‘Internet of Light’ wave that crashed over Light + Building seemed to be dedicated to the systems integrator or facilities manager. At worst it was purely aimed at the consumer, destined to be another commoditised item, like an iPad or XBox.

I know the aim of technical revolutions are to wipe away traditional practices with new features at a lower price. But I have concerns.
In the last month, my wife and I have twice been victims of internet banking fraud. (I thought something was odd when I was charged £2500 for buying a caravan in Australia.) The breaching of internet security systems is becoming increasingly rampant. Lighting is critical to physical security and, as smart lighting begins to be installed across current and new residential and corporate constructions, the ability of a network intruder to remotely shut off lighting in locations such as hospitals and other public venues could result in serious consequences. With more data being held and transported across Wi-Fi channels, the potential for security breaches increase. Paranoid? Maybe so, but nobody can say that there isn’t increased danger as more and more lighting systems go ‘online’.

Oh no! I’ve just realised I haven’t once talked about lighting design in this piece! How depressing.

Pete Brewis, deputy editor, writes:  As April slipped into May, it was time to climb back aboard the travellator-trail for another round of Light + Building. The show’s gravitational pull has long distorted the natural flow of manufacturers’ development cycles, with products either held back or rushed out early in prototype form, allowing brands to maximise their innovation wow factor. Visitors too are drawn in to orbit, an army of 210,000 light-lovers, circulating the vast messegelände like man-sized sushi, soaking up the musak power-ballads and exchanging tales of flight-based woe - jumping off occassionally to hunt for the Next Big Thing In Lighting.

In past editions, the narrative has been fairly clear-cut – and largely focused on the buckaroo ride of LED development. From the emergence of solid state as a viable light source to its wall-to-wall adoption in every kind of luminaire imaginable, via ever-spiraling lumens and ever-shrinking form factors, the headlines have, more often than not, written themselves.

This year, however, things seemed to have settled down and those looking for ground-breaking changes came away disappointed. The lighting world wasn’t spun on its head; there was no gestalt shift, but rather a deepening of understanding and a strengthening of ability.
Aside from the focus on super-smart control technologies, the talk was of luminaires and sources that could deliver quality light, fit for purpose, delivering on their promises. So, while the industry may not have taken any sharp turns this year, the direction of travel remains good and the conversations on route bode well for the future.



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