Smart stuff with lights

Over the past few weeks I got fascinated by the idea of light.

I stumbled upon this interesting read in the weekend edition of the Belgian newspaper Gazet Van Antwerpen. It covered Philip’s personal wireless lightning solution called hue. And it seemed so fascinating to me!

Hue consists of a couple of parts. First of all, it uses these special LED light bulbs. They can display different tones of white light – from warm yellow white to vibrant blue white. And every color in between. Also, these light bulbs are very convenient and easy to install.

Now you might want to wonder where all the clever stuff happens. Philips designed the hue bridge to make the magic happen.  It’s the “bridge” between your bulbs and your hue smart phone app in fact.  You need to plug it into the back of your wireless router, using some network cables. As easy as it gets, you can then use the app to control your wireless bulbs. The app comes with a whole lot of settings fine-tuned to your mood. For example, the “Energize” setting will give your energy levels a boost. Perfect for those moments when your batteries are running low. The “Concentrate” setting will change all your selected LED bulbs to a tone and brightness that will help keep you focused and alert. Choose the “Relax” setting and all your selected light bulbs will change to a soft, soothing glow. And of course, there’s also a “Reading” setting, which makes reading become a pleasure again. What’s also interesting, is that Philips built an entire community around hue. All of the scenes created by the community can be used with your very own wireless LED bulbs!

It is just amazing how much health and wellness benefits that light can offer. And what an experience it can create apparently!

And how this hue system explains how much radical progress we have made! Here’s why.

Matt Ridley devoted a couple of paragraphs on lightning in his latest book The Rational Optimist. He explains, in terms of economic growth, that artificial light lies on the border between necessity and luxury. In monetary terms, the same amount of artificial lighting cost 20000 times as much in England in the year 1300 as it does today. Or put another way: an hour of work today earns you 300 days’ worth of reading light; an hour of work in 1800 earned you ten minutes of reading light. And these numbers don’t even take into account the greater conveneience and cleanliness of modern electronic light compared with candles or kerosene — its simple switching, its lack of smoke, smell and flicker, its lesser fire hazard, as Ridley points out.

And the improvment in lightning is by far finished! I just demonstrated that clearly with what Philips is doing with hue.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are highly efficient and have the added benefit of working at a portable scale. This can and will surely transform people’s lives.

Think about what improvements in lightning efficiency mean!

Also, just think about what scientists can do with all these data about our lightning use. Enterprises likewise. Today it is possible to generate data on a single light bulb, such as switch-on and switch-off times and the frequency of use. It’s about looking at ways of using such data effectively to meet organizational and personal goals.

But let’s not be too serious about this light thing. If NPP Doel 3 and Tihange 2 remain closed, this will threaten electricity supply or cause shortages during the next cold snap. And what do our members of parliament propose? Well, to shut down the highway lightning! Wonderful.

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