Lumens & Beyond (L&B) was founded by veterans in the field of LED lighting, industrial design, IoT and technology, who have a passion for creating innovative lighting solutions. The company believes that smart technology should be accessible to all, and works towards promoting this philosophy. It has a technology partnership with WiSilica, a leading US-based enterprise offering a location-aware, cloud-to-device IoT platform that bridges objects, locations and people in real time to create smart environment with predictive intelligence. The technology is built over intelligent and secure Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh that provides a complete solution, covering wide-ranging IoT applications across healthcare, smart lighting and several other industries. We at LED World got into a conversation with Amit Sheth, Co-Founder, L&B, who spoke at length on company’s profile and its future plans.
What is the idea behind the brand name L&B?
Nowadays, everybody is talking about smart lighting and IoT. The idea at L&B is more than lighting i.e. beyond lighting. We are providing a complete ecosystem for homes and offices, wherein one can make all kinds of appliances smart. We are focused on how everything can be turned into intelligent devices.
How did L&B come in to existence?
L&B comes from a background of lighting. The group company is called ‘Focus Lighting’ which has been catering to the needs of lighting industry since 2005. Having got listed on NSE, we are one of the largest companies when it comes to retail lighting. L&B is a separate vertical, which came into existence due to the coming together of four key founders, one of whom is Suresh Singham Shetty. He runs a US-based company called WiSilica, which offers all technological support to L&B. The entire designing, development and manufacturing is the responsibility of the people of this group. Unlike other companies, we are manufacturing all components of LEDs in India.
We are not just a product company but a solutions-based company. We are trying to empower the industry by making it more professional. It is our aim to support the OEM industry, and thus, we are not just designing and developing for ourselves but also for the lighting industry as a whole. We believe that if we can really associate and penetrate with OEMs, then the market would become much larger. With the mesh, our power system is not only connected with mobiles, it is also connected with switches, including the wireless ones. They power themselves when someone presses the button. Our complete ecosystem includes switches, remotes, mobile phones and all sorts of Android & iOS devices. This is what makes us different from others.
What made you choose WiSilica?
The company has been able to customise these lighting systems in a better way, besides being more user-friendly. They were also the initiators of BLE technology in the world, so WiSilica was an obvious choice.
What are your views on smart lighting?
We firmly believe that the future of lighting is smart. Besides the convenience of the system, there are a lot of other elements in smart lighting. It not only allows the lights to be dimmed or turned from cool to warm and vice versa, but also affects the health and wellbeing of humans. Therefore, we have been doing a lot of research on effects of LED lights on human health.
What kind of focus does the company have on human-centric lighting?
We are the only company talking about human-centric lighting in the right sense. Most companies don’t understand the concept properly and are misleading the industry and customers by propagating a distorted idea. What these companies are trying to market is an incomplete version of human centric lighting. According to them, melancholy is suppressed when a light is turned to warm but this is not true. Even the warm light in LED has a very high spectrum of blue, which we will have to restrain so as to create effective human centric lighting.
It is important to understand what should be the right type of lighting during daytime and evening time. In order to understand this, nature is the best example to follow. When there were no artificial lights, we were exposed to high levels of sunlight (1,00,000 lux or even more); and in the evening people used to sit near the fire with quite low lux level. But we can’t have artificial light with that kind of lux level. Eventually, we came out with a calculation that the lux of warm lights without blue should be low by 10X, and for white light it has to be higher by 10X. This means that if we have 1,000 lux inside the room, there would be only 100 lux after dark. Moreover, we also found that very dim white light gives a gloomy effect and makes humans sad. Our lighting is based on these simple facts.
What is your estimation on the size of smart lighting market in India?
Smart lighting today is a very small market and it is expected that by 2020, it will grow to be worth 10,000 crores.
Who are your target customers? Do you plan to target rural areas?
We don’t believe in catering to 1-2 % of the country’s population. We know that as the volume increases, prices go down. Therefore, we want technology to reach everyone in the society at all levels. Over the coming years, the technology is also likely to become simpler. Our motto is – for masses, not for the classes. We are definitely looking at rural areas and we have to see how deep we can penetrate that market in a short period of time.
What do you think is lacking in India’s LED lighting industry? What kind of issues do companies have to deal with?
We think that LED market in India is highly abused. Most of the time, there are no real manufacturers as it is a labeled industry. If we pick 10 products and shuffle them, one won’t be able to understand which product belongs to whom. From top to bottom, every company is an importer and the market is China. Our USP is that we want to give a good, sustainable quality, which can last for long. That is why we clearly say that LEDs should generally be guaranteed for five years, while each of the suppliers here is offering just one year.
What about the issue of security in intelligent lighting systems?
We are working on professional lighting systems and a lot of data is being pushed to cloud. The biggest strength that comes to us through WiSilca is that we have got our own servers based in India. Most of our associated companies have already expressed concern over the outgoing data. However, with new regulations coming in all this data would be secured. This brings us an advantage because we are here to also serve the OEM industry, and being the only ones with own servers, we are ready to push data to servers of OEMs.
Please share details about your manufacturing facilities?
We have a big R&D centre in Kochi where there are more than 100 people working at the backend and supporting the OEM industry. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which is spread over 80,000 sq. ft., is located in Ahmedabad.
How are you planning to establish yourself in this highly competitive market?
Unfortunately with BLE, the electronics are very expensive and we are still not able to match prices of regular unintelligent lighting systems. There is a cost difference by 3-4 times compared to the Chinese products. They are sold at Rs. 300-400, while we are selling at Rs. 1500-1600.
What are your future plans?
We are looking at a complete lighting ecosystem. Our solutions are available through our strong distribution network, besides working with OEMs. We are expecting somewhere between 30 and 40 crores in the coming two years. We are looking forward to creating an environment where even the masses can enjoy the benefits of smart lighting. We are not doing this for commercial benefits as we take lot of pride in designing and manufacturing everything in India and competing with European players, not Chinese.