Creating beauty in efficient lighting: KMUTT at the forefront of innovative lighting design

Blue light emitting diodes sparked a revolution in lighting technology and “now everything is LEDs” according to Assistant Professor Dr. Chanyaporn Chuntamara, School of Architecture and Design at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand.

Blue light emittng diodes (LEDs) sparked a revoluton in lightng technology and “now everything is LEDs” according to Assistant Professor Dr. Chanyaporn Chuntamara, School of Architecture and Design (SoA+D) at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and director of the Lighting Research Innovation Centre (LRIC). Lighting research integrates artistoc esthetics, human factors research, and the high tech fields of computer and electrical engineering to develop sustainable lighting designs. But bridging current reality, when most use less efficient fluorescent lighting is an ongoing challenge.

Accelerating the adoption of high-quality, energy-efficient lighting in institutional and household settings is LRIC’s mission. While LEDs are more energy efficient than other light sources, providing more light at a location still requires more energy than lower light levels. However, the exact
amount of light required for different tasks can vary between individuals and with different colors of light. Using different types of LEDs, lighting designers can optimize the color, intensity and direction of light provided to be functional and aesthetically pleasing. Since the best arrangement of LEDs depends on the users in a particular context, ongoing research is needed. With external strategic partners and researchers, including Professor Dr. Michael Siminovitch, Director of the California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) and Distinguished Visiting Professor, SoA+D, KMUTT, LRIC works to stimulate the creation of innovative lighting products with commercial potential. By assessing user preferences, researchers can design lighting that truly delights the senses, while maximizing energy-efficiency and health benefits. For example, research results indicate Thai users report different lighting preferences for vanity mirrors than have previously been reported for “Asian” skin tones.

Dr. Chanyaporn’s multidisciplinary collaboration in the Culture, Creativity, and High-Value Services Research Cluster at KMUTT focuses on design driven innovation integrating intuitive hardware and software interfaces. Dr. Priyakorn Pusawiro, Computer Engineering Department, KMUTT, is an interactive design technologist who collaborated with a Swedish architect on the “Synergetic Lotus” interactive light display exhibited over the 2016 New Year in Bangkok. Dr. Priyakorn described the display saying “the colors, movement, and spectra of the lights from the Lotus…represent …species of lotus flowers [and]…awareness of how we cannot always control all the things that we face in life.” Dr. Chanyaporn is also working with Associate Professor Chansak Apainipat, Department of Electrical Engineering, KMUTT, and Assistant Professor Dr. Kriengkrai Porkaew, School of Information Technology, KMUTT, to install different LED street lighting, testing mixed red, green, and blue LEDs or phosphor coated LEDs.

As April goes on record as the 12th month in a row to break global temperature records, LRIC is lighting the way towards energy savings. On 1-3 June 2016 KMUTT hosted an APEC workshop “Establishing Lighting Best Practices Educational Programs to Achieve Deep Energy Savings” as part
of an ongoing APEC collaboration between LRIC and university lighting centers at Tongji University and UC Davis. In developing countries lighting can account for as much as 33% of energy usage. Retrofitting existing buildings with efficient LED lighting is one of the most effective ways to save
energy. In addition, “highly efficient lighting, when properly done, can enhance our visual environment,” according to Dr. Michael.

Prof. Michael Siminovitch (MS) and
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanyaporn Chuntamara (CC)
How did your collaboration with KMUTT and LRIC Start?
CC: I received a forwarded email about the possibility of Michael visiting on sabbatical.
MS: My initial interest was to work with an established university that had a leadership role in design and sustainability. KMUTT was recommended to me as the thought leader in Southeast Asia engaged in cutting-edge research on sustainable lighting design and policy development.

What future lighting trends do you find the most exciting?
MS: There is a growing interest in how lighting enhances our productivity, well-being, and comfort inside spaces. I believe that human-centered lighting, such as task lighting integrated with advanced user-based controls offers unique opportunities inside spaces.
CC: The possibilities for large scale energy savings combined with design customization.