This piece was originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of electroindustry.
From the moment we wake up until the time we switch off our bedside lamp, lighting is an integral part of many of the daily things we do. On-demand lighting is something that we rely upon and expect to be available as a matter of course. Writing this column made me reflect on how much we take modern lighting for granted.
The inventions that have shaped our world, such as the wheel and agriculture at the dawn of civilization through automobiles and airplanes in the last century, show how far we have come. The humble lightbulb certainly deserves to be considered in the same group. Electric light fundamentally changed how we lived and worked. And its follow-on effects, such as the way we design our buildings, cities, and factories, are testament to this fact. At the human level, electric light has given us greater flexibility across more hours and in more settings to safely occupy our time. Consequently, lighting will remain a non-negotiable component of all future energy strategies.
This is a story covering a 150-year history. In the beginning, the incandescent lamp replaced candlelight and lanterns. By the 1930s, the fluorescent bulb entered the market as a longer-lasting option and one that fulfilled the promise of being more efficient. Today, LED lightbulbs are installed in homes, businesses, and automobiles around the world, reigning as the leading technology in energy efficiency. And from the beginning through our times, lighting has become more convenient and inventive.
But the future of lighting is far more than an energy efficient light source. Now that lighting is digital, embedding sensors in lightbulbs enables us to capture ambient data to manage assets more effectively. Imagine using light bulbs to track wheelchairs in a hospital or monitor humidity in a manufacturing facility. With billions of light bulbs in use around the world, there is a near infinite pool of untapped data.
Welcome to the new age of lighting!
In this issue, we will explore what this new age of lighting means for electrical manufacturers from a variety of different perspectives. But any way you look at it, the future is as bright as it has ever been. ei
Chair, NEMA Board of Governors