Estimated to be a 100 billion dollar market by 2026, the accent and ambient lighting industry is growing rapidly. While smart lighting solutions have now made their way into the mainstream with the introduction of smart bulbs, accent and decorative lighting solutions are now set to do the same.
Introducing splashes of colour and stylised light into a space not only affects the ambience of a room but can also directly influence the mood and energy levels of individuals. There are, therefore, many use-cases for such lighting solutions with technology now able to help meet healthy building goals to improve the overall wellbeing of occupants.
Inspired by a few recent features on Wired, below, we’ll take an unbiased look at some of the latest innovations to hit the ambient and decorative lighting space from a variety of different manufacturers. Each suits a different purpose and has its own advantages and surprising quirks.
1. Philips Hue Gradient Smart Lightstrip
Philips has been at the heart of the smart lighting revolution and has since been busy adding ambient solutions to its Hue range of products. The Hue Gradient Smart Lightstrip is one such innovation and allows for creative home and office lighting. The flexible strips feature an adhesive strip on the back allowing it to be used as hidden recess lighting behind mirrors, cabinets, and TVs, or used to draw attention to trip hazards such as stairs.
The light strip can be controlled using a smartphone or paired with a Philips Hue compatible hub to enable integration with a smart home. Using the app, the colour and brightness of the light strip can be precisely controlled, with several preset scenes set by Philips ready to use.
2. Govee Neon Rope Light Strip
While light strips are often hidden away to provide spill lighting, Govee’s Neon Rope Light Strip is designed to be showcased. Using a diffusing layer, these flexible strips of LEDs can be customized to form an endless amount of shapes and configurations. Able to display several colours simultaneously, with gradient effects possible, the Neon Rope is one of the most striking light strips on the market. They work great as a way to provide daylight-mimicking light to fight SAD (https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/mental-health/seasonal-affective-disorder/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-symptoms.html) and boost mood, or use as a subtle night light. Being a smart device, the light strip can be controlled using your voice too, though an app is available.
Synced with a smart assistant, the light strips can also be used as a way to enhance the experience of music, with the colour changing and animating in time with a beat, ideal for many commercial ambient light purposes.
3. Nanoleaf Shapes
Coming in two different shapes, with several starter kits on offer, Nanoleaf Shapes are the standout smart light panels on the market today. Using a modular system, triangle and hexagonal light panels fit together in a multitude of different ways to form unique, ambient lighting. Finding particular popularity among video content creators and streamers, Nanoleaf light panels are easy to set up and can be controlled by a hardware control panel or desktop app. Each shape is touch sensitive, with the ability to change the colour of individual panels with a simple swipe.
While often used to add a striking, neon accent to a background, Nanoleaf’s technology serves as an excellent mood booster and works well in reception areas to provide subtle, reading light.
4. Cololight Plus/Pro
The Cololight is a modular-style lamp that can provide ambient lighting even in small spaces. Through the use of reconfigurable hexagonal panels, the lamp can be reworked into a vast array of shapes, increasing and decreasing the light output as necessary.
As a smart lighting device, the ColoLight can be programmed to display a wide range of colours, with dynamic patterns and effects possible. The Plus comes with a plastic base while the Pro has a more stable, stone base, with both looking great in office settings atop desks, giving the chance for personal expression.
5. LIFX Beam
One of the biggest changes over the past couple of years is for strip lighting to become a feature in itself. As a feature light, the LIFX Beam stands as one of the most innovative. The start kit comes with 6 illuminable sticks that fasten together with magnets.
As would be expected, the devices can be customised to display any colour and combination, with a diffused effect making them ideal for living room accent lighting. The kit works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and other smart home automation services. The LIFX Beam is also designed to not affect the circadian rhythm of inhabitants, with a Day & Dusk feature that aims to emulate the brightness of the time of day.
6. Halo Wall
Crafted by the Spanish designer Martin Azua, the Halo Wall is about as simple as it gets with single, slimline, 1-metre long LED units used to fashion various compositions. The sticks of light can be used as an interesting wall feature but work equally well as subtle ambient light.
While the Halo Wall fixtures look relatively standard on first blush, every element of the design has been carefully considered, using a double methacrylate diffuser atop a shallow aluminum profile to give the impression of pixel lighting. They provide clean, non-harmful light with a CRI of 80, at 3000K, a high standard of colour accuracy and temperature for occupant wellbeing.
7. Dyson Solarcycle Morph
In the typical Dyson style, the Solarcycle Morph takes a technological concept and elevates it beyond other options on the market. In this case, Dyson has turned its attention to feature and accent lighting. Whether used to highlight a wall-mounted picture or pointed at a wall to provide indirect mood lighting, the Solarcycle Morph is a versatile smart light that is potentially the most innovative on the market.
Similar to a draftsman’s lamp, a spotlight is attached via a flexible arm on top of an illuminating central column. While the lamp can be used as a direct task lamp, it works best as an ambient light source, with it able to mimic the natural daylight cycle automatically. Using Dyson’s Link app, you can synchronise the ambient light with local daylight, or choose from a variety of presets including relaxation and study. The LED bulb is set to last 60 years and can output a colour temperature of anything between 2700 and 6500 kelvin.
With the smart ambient and accent lighting sector still in its relative infancy, the future of the space looks to see even further innovations over the coming years.
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