Seoul Semiconductor has long promoted it’s SunLike LED series as a pioneering technology in the human-centric lighting (HCL) space. In this emerging market still fighting to justify the science behind its concept, the SunLike series has become a growing success story in numerous applications. So, is Seoul Semiconductor’s LED series actually better than other systems and destined to dominate, or is its success the spark for increased growth of the market as a whole?
“As the paradigm of lighting shifts to human-centric lighting, there is an increasing demand for healthy light sources for people who spend a lot of time indoors,” said Carlo Romiti, Europe sales Vice President of Seoul Semiconductor. “Beyond the function to illuminate the darkness, light sources with SunLike Series LEDs certainly bring differentiated value to the lighting industry, compared to conventional LEDs.”
Technically, there are some differences. The SunLike LED technology replicates sunlight by replacing the common blue LED light source with a purple light LED chip. They claim this lowers the blue light peak to be similar to sunlight’s spectral curve in order to reduce scattered reflection and glare common in conventional LEDs. SunLike also promises to more accurately show the colour of objects as they would appear in natural sunlight, using an optimised to natural light spectra and colour rendering close to that of sunlight - CRI-97, compared to 100 for natural sunlight, and the average CRI-80 of conventional LEDs.
“Around the turn of the millennium, the discovery of non-visual photoreceptors in the eye established the link between light and the circadian system, our internal body clock, which controls the release of certain hormones among other things. The evidence strongly suggests that, over millions of years of evolution, human biology has developed its diurnal patterns in large part by reacting to the different wavelengths of sunlight emitted over the course of the day,” explains our 2019 HCL report.
HCL is not defined by mimicking natural sunlight but the science behind HCL certainly suggests a strong link between health, productivity, and natural light. A recent comprehensive sleep study conducted by Prof. Christian Cajochen and his team at the University of Basel, Switzerland, found evidence that a daylight LED solution has beneficial effects on visual comfort, daytime alertness, mood, and sleep intensity in healthy volunteers. So, by better mimicking the light emitted by the sun, Seoul Semiconductor could bring about more health, wellness, and productivity-enhancing benefits in artificial light conditions.
The science is compelling but the real test is the market itself. Just last week, the firm announced that The Nordeon Group partner WILA Lighting, specialists in personalised lighting solutions, has adopted Seoul Semiconductor’s SunLike Series natural spectrum LEDs for Visic, WILA’s new product range. They join leading Chinese e-commerce company JingDong, the new Lumen Center Italia, among others who have made the same choice. The SunLike series is also now being sold through three premium lighting brands in U.S., Pure Edge Lighting, LEDRAbrands Inc., and Elite Lighting.
Studies, like that of Prof. Cajochen, depend heavily on surveys that investigate the impact of workplace light on complex, multi-faceted human characteristics like mood, motivation, alertness, and ultimately productivity. HCL lighting solutions depend on these surveys to demonstrate the biological impact of their sun-like light but there are much simpler forms of life to study. “Just like animals and humans, plants have evolved in tune with natural sunlight. HCL technology, therefore, can also be adapted to increase the health and productivity of plants in indoor applications,” our comprehensive HCL report explains.
You can’t convince a plant based on promises, buzzwords, and comparisons with 1980’s fluorescent workplace lighting. Plants demand perfect natural conditions and will limit growth and yield in the face of anything less. So when growing indoors the sun-like qualities of artificial light are more evident. Seoul Semiconductor could be said to have passed the plant test when it was officially adopted for horticulture LED lighting by Rofianda B.V. a major player in the Netherlands — the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world and a leader in indoor growing.
There are no significant reasons why other manufacturers couldn’t make LEDs with a similar CRI level to natural sunlight, but a few key reasons why Seoul Semiconductor is emerging as a leader in this space. Seoul Semiconductor has invested heavily in R&D for the last couple of decades, resulting in more than 12,000 patents related to LED lightings alone. The company has pioneered package-free LED technology, fixture enhancing WICOP, and their AC driven LED technology, Acrich, among other breakthroughs.
The success of SunLike is also generating proof-of-concept for HCL technology as a whole, which is driving the entire industry forward. According to our 2019 HCL report, a global market worth $849 million (2019) has developed around the technology. That global market for HCL solutions is expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2024, representing a 32.75% CAGR over the five years, and companies like Seoul Semiconductor are at the heart of that growth.
“HCL is an inevitable reality for the future of lighting. Results of ongoing and future HCL pilots and installations will continue to demonstrate the benefits of the technology and highlight the negative health and productivity impacts of non-HCL solutions,” claims our in-depth analysis. “It may take some time but as the cost of tunable lighting comes down, the lure of health and productivity benefits will make HCL a standard feature in lighting for all kinds of building. HCL is just one part of a human-centric revolution in our built environment.”
The confidence products like the SunLike series are generating across the industry will drive adoption, innovation, and cost-reduction to take us closer to that happy, healthy, productive future of widespread HCL in our increasingly smart buildings.