Consumers have come to expect personalized experiences with everything they touch.
Smart LEDs and sensor technologies are leading the way in customizing personal experiences in our homes, much like they’re doing for productivity in many industries, which is leading to improved health, expanded living efficiencies, energy savings, and greater security.
As consumers, we have come to expect a personalized experience in nearly everything we touch: bots that react to information we provide them, unique profile settings in our vehicles and computers, and product recommendations based on our shopping histories. Data is the currency of the IoT and—as technology collects more bytes of information that learn our tastes—the quality and accuracy of suggested information improves.
The most logical extension of a personalized experience is the home. Where we live already reflects our décor style and tone; when guests arrive, they can instantly sense the environment in which the host prefers to live. Technology makes these choices a two-way street, like other technology-driven personalization experiences.
While many technological solutions deliver this customization, LED lighting and optoelectronics, in particular, can enable a high degree of personalization in the a smart home.
Smart home standards and challenges
Product designers focused on personalization should consider reviewing standards and innovations for smart homes.
The newest smart home standard, Matter (https://bit.ly/41hpEDq), is a universal language integrating smart home devices. Developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, Matter will work on a local network, bringing the benefits of edge computing to smart home devices. It connects Thread (low power/bandwidth) for the optoelectronics with higher-power Wi-Fi and ethernet for data-intense applications.
Most smart home devices operate in the 2.4 GHz industrial, scientific, medical (ISM) band. With more connected devices, interference can be a problem. Insteon and Z-Wave operate below that range, at 915 MHz, so having a mix of lower and higher frequency devices minimizes interference. Higher signal strength and low power operation can help reduce interference, as can testing and checking device locations in the home to optimize performance. An ISP-provided smart home hub—or web-based services like IFTTT or Stringify—are the best ways to network smart home devices to minimize interference.
Personalization through LED lighting
LEDs provide significant advantages over traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Beyond the energy efficiency, they last longer, provide improved lighting quality, and are inherently more customizable than their legacy counterparts. The color of an incandescent bulb depends on a precise filament temperature, while LEDs’ color temperature is tunable depending on the phosphor formulations.
The next phase of innovation combines smart technology with LED lighting, creating “smart bulbs.” These lighting solutions tie lighting to a control strategy like voice assistants or apps to enable user-defined environments. In addition, smart bulb LEDs easily integrate with existing fixtures, creating a connected device at each lighting location in the home. This benefit creates a personalizable network for users to operate from a single control point. Three applications of personalized intelligent lighting are setting control, zone control, and color and intensity.
Setting and zone control
The homeowner can save lighting settings for various events, such as “daytime,” “movie night,” or “entertaining.” They can store a lighting color and brightness setting for one or more rooms under a single description and can activate the television or smart speaker at the same time. Setting control allows the user to manually set the lighting to meet their changing needs.
Similar to controlling a specific setting choice, smart bulb controllers can operate independently of each other, creating various lighting zones throughout the home. An example of this function may be dimming lights in children’s rooms while maintaining brighter lights in the kitchen in the evening. Additionally, home security, exterior, and patio lighting areas are customizable.
Color and intensity
Because a single filament color temperature does not govern LED color and intensity, a smart bulb offers various personalizable lighting options. For example, the lighting can be synchronized to the Circadian cycle, dynamically matching the color and intensity of interior light to the natural human frequency. In addition to improving sleep quality at night, this human-centric approach customizes LED lighting to enhance mood, concentration, energy, and alertness during the day by integrating technology with natural human tendencies.
Optoelectronics enhances personalization
LEDs are one type of optoelectronic device that deliver substantial personalized features. However, other related technologies magnify the effect by enhancing how LEDs can help. Among these are proximity sensors, optical displays, and communication tools.
Innovative technology is only as good as the data it analyzes. As a result, sensors play a critical role in personalizing the smart home. For example, while the user can dictate the lighting color/intensity, optoelectronic ambient light and proximity sensors can detect these features, along with motion. Likewise, sensing a light condition can enable the home to automate light adjustment given a varying amount of natural light. Sensor-connecting lighting can also monitor the condition of a room and suggest or adjust settings according to a prescribed environment.
While apps or voice assistants provide familiar controls for monitoring and customizing the home environment, optical displays like organic LED (OLED) or LCD screens can provide a less disruptive method of communicating the devices’ status to the homeowner. For example, a visual display can show real-time information to the homeowner based on data it collects, such as internal and external temperatures, and weather or home appliance metrics. It can also enable the user to manually change or override existing settings based on the display’s information.
Smart homes feel more personal when controls between connected devices are seamless. Optoelectronics delivers smooth communication between technology through infrared (IR) remote controls or visible light communication (VLC) from one device to another. Optimally, the user would act once—or not at all if sensors trigger a change—and the technology would instantly respond to a desired condition.
Energy efficiency and security benefits
While not necessarily active personalized functions, smart LEDs and optoelectronics can also add energy efficiency and security benefits for the homeowner. LEDs and optoelectronic sensors can detect opportunities to reduce the lighting amount, and they can connect to thermostats to govern energy usage and consumption. In addition, thermostats can “learn” user preferences, customizing the temperature setting for their typical schedule and optimizing energy efficiency in the process.
Personalized security is another application of optoelectronics to enhance the smart home. For example, instead of prompting the user to input a complicated code or risk an error de-activating an alarm, a system can employ facial recognition or biometrics to enable a minimally-disruptive security experience without compromising the benefits.
Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences in their everyday lives. The home is no exception. Smart LEDs and sensor technologies are central to providing a customized experience that delivers additional benefits to enhanced customization, like improved health, energy savings and security. As a result, the utility of customized and smart lighting is transforming the industrial, retail, residential, automotive, and healthcare verticals.
Moreover, with the continued permeation of artificial intelligence, homeowners and professionals alike can enjoy a less active approach to controlling the home as the technology captures data and reacts automatically and dynamically.