Reading time ( words)
The smart lighting trend continues to be a hot industry issue, as experts revealed at seminars held as part of the 21st HKTDC Hong Kong International Lighting Fair (Autumn Edition). Two seminars under the theme of "The Ecosystem of Connected Living" were held on 27 and 28 October, at which representatives from various lighting brands shared their insights on industry challenges, strategies and the latest technologies.
Jin Xin Justing, General Manager of Opple International Business Unit and Head of Smart System Planning at Opple Lighting, visited the Lighting Fair before speaking at the seminar and noticed that many of the smart lighting products emerging this year share similar functionalities. This shows both the potential in the smart home market as well as the competition manufacturers face. Mr. Jin told the seminar audience that the market suffers not from a lack of products with great functions, but from a lack of products that fulfil users' needs.
For example, as the population in Mainland China ages, the older generation may not be equipped to control smart household appliances through their phones, so future developments of smart household technologies should consider the needs of the elderly. As the mobile phone market grows more saturated, corporations such as Huawei and Xioami are looking to lead the development of smart-home products to grow their profits. Over the last two years, Opple and Huawei have cooperated on the development of new products, successfully promoting reading light sales through Huawei's bricks-and-mortar stores and online platforms.
Mr. Jin suggested that lighting companies should explore the potential for further cross-industry cooperation, giving the example of the mainland city of Suzhou, where the street lighting system was developed as a collaboration involving Opple's street lights, China Telecom's network, China Mobile's wireless signal, and Huawei's mobile phones. To foster this type of cooperation, lighting companies should possess research and development capabilities as well as being service providers.
Human-oriented lighting suitable for schools and hospitals
Bob van der Linden, senior director of global product management at Signify (China) Investment Co., Ltd., noted that industry profits are being limited by the steady decline in the selling price of global lighting products. In search of new revenue streams, Signify developed human-oriented lighting products that are suitable for schools, fitting rooms and hospitals. Adjustments can be made to school lights according to whether students are looking at slides, paying attention to the teacher or relaxing. Fitting room lights can create day and night scenarios so that customers can see how their clothes look in different situations. The brand also combines Bluetooth beaconing and connected lighting to improve the experience for users.
Tony Kong, general manager of Tuya's Lighting Division, introduced its artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) platform with research and development, manufacturing and sales capabilities that can help the lighting industry turn traditional products into smart products.
Bright light therapy improves elderly health
Besides profits, Hatta Kazuhiro, Vice Manager, Panasonic R&D Center Suzhou Co., Ltd., explained that the value of connected lighting lies in its ability to improve public health. For example, the elderly often find it hard to sleep well at night, making them mentally fatigued during the day. Quoting research from Japanese scholars, he noted that the elderly will be healthier if they receive sufficient light, so the brand developed what it calls "bright light therapy", setting indoor lighting to simulate a bright, sunny day with a lux much higher than that found in domestic and commercial buildings.
The Panasonic team later collected data from a nursing home and contrasted the residents' situation before and after the installation of the new devices. They saw that the elderly were less prone to waking up and pacing around at night and also enjoyed a longer sleeping time. Nursing home staff, meanwhile, reported that the lighting helps to alleviate the condition of patients with dementia, making them less anxious and more willing to talk.
'A very good era' for Chinese brands
New technologies bring new impacts as well as opportunities to the market. David Tam, Overseas Marketing Director, TCL Very Lighting Technology (Huizhou) Co., Ltd., an international marketing veteran, said that it is "a very good era" for mainland brands to develop foreign trade. He explained that mainland lighting companies were going through three phases in terms of developing overseas markets. First came acting as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for other brands, then selling products through e-commerce platforms.
The first two phases suffer from an absence of branding, making it hard for these companies to promote themselves overseas, but now comes the "foreign trade 3.0 era." As the Internet and e-commerce platforms grow more mature, Mr Tam said that the overseas sales performance of companies such as Anker and Xiaomi was more satisfactory. His own company, TCL, initiated its "one brand one home" sales strategy. After its sales of televisions reached the top three worldwide, the company prioritised the development of a smart lighting system that interacts with TVs. In the future, he said, users will be able to control lights by speech commands through their TVs, which in turn will help to boost the sales of lighting products.