The lighting market seems like it’s been in a constant state of change over the last few decades because of the constant development of ever-more efficient technology. But software developers and other techies in the IT world never thought about a career in lighting until they started hearing about the development of smart lighting systems that will link lighting fixtures to building management systems and billions of other nodes via the Internet of Things.
That was the consensus of opinion from a group of lighting execs who participated in the Smart Lighting panel discussion at the IoT Emerge event last month in Chicago. Eric Lind, sales vice president, Strategic Commercial Accounts, Lutron Electronics Co., Coopersburg, PA, has seen the new interest in lighting from IT talent at Lutron, where a growing percentage of new hires have a background in software development. He says lighting was never considered a tech industry until the last few years.
Ken Walma, V.P. and general manager, Ambient & Controls Solutions. Eaton – Lighting, Peachtree City, GA, said Eaton’s lighting business has been hiring tech talent from “every tech company you can imagine,” and that many of the software developers and other new employees want to work in lighting because of massive opportunity available in upgrading existing lighting fixtures with LEDs and connected lighting systems.
“Very few other industries in the world have a fixed infrastructure that is going to be touched in every home and every building in every city that will be touched in the next 10 years,” he said. “That changeout, has created a very attractive proposition for some of the most technology-rich people in the world.”
Gary Trott, V.P. of marketing, Intelligent Lighting, Cree, Durham, NC, says the type of people his company hires is very different from several years ago and includes data scientists, software and firmware specialists. “All those people must work together to create a solution that is so simple the people installing it and using it don’t have to have that level of sophistication,” he said. “It’s very hard to make something simple and that is what the challenge is.”
Electrical Wholesaling’s January issue will have an article on this panel discussion.