Behind the scenes with Lumishore's Lumi-Link
SYN heads to Lumishore HQ for an exclusive look at the tech behind the innovative Lumi-Link lighting controller…
There’s a sense of quiet productivity in Lumishore’s offices near the regenerated waterfront in Swansea, UK. The operation has expanded since SuperyachtNews was last in town, and the company has gradually taken over more and more of the building in the technology park as its manufacturing has grown. It’s hardly surprising – while barely a decade old, Lumishore has led the way in a number of areas, including developing the first underwater colour-change lights. It’s perhaps because Lumishore boasts some real talent and experience at its core. Indeed, CTO Gareth Evans and engineering director Tony Xu have a proven track record at the cutting edge of LED design – for example, both previously worked on the extraordinary Yas Hotel project in Abu Dhabi with its 5,000 individually addressable exoskeleton LED lights.
As we stand in the development lab, Evans runs me through the current product portfolio, including new ultra-bright lighting units and a universal retrofitting solution. But the real show-stopper is a small black box that sits in the palm of the hand. “This is the clever bit,” Evans beams. This, I soon learn, is the brain behind Lumishore’s new Lumi-Link lighting control system which was launched at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in October, and exhibited at METSTRADE in November.
Key to this clever gizmo is that it has been designed as a simple plug-and-play device, with an interface that can be used on any multi-function display (MFD) or even on your iPhone or other personal device. Moreover the user interface itself has been designed using HTML5 – essentially it’s a web page, and that means that anyone with a bit of HTML5 experience can customise the look of the control page.
"It doesn’t have to be an MFD, it can be a phone or an iPad – in fact, anything that is able to look at a web page is able to load our lighting control"
“The whole system is basically a series of web pages or a one-page website, for want of a better word, that is all stored here on the black box,” Evans explains, “so you don’t have to be connected to the internet or the cloud. You plug in an Ethernet cable from this unit to the back of the MFD, and it broadcasts those pages in the device and displays them. So it doesn’t have to be an MFD, it can be a phone or an iPad – in fact, anything that is able to look at a web page is able to load our lighting control. The beauty of it is that there are a lot of HTML programmers around and for anyone who wants to have their own look and feel to the interface it’s basically just designing a web page. We provide the APIs so it can easily be designed into or around the boat’s fonts and graphics etc.”
The interface allows for easy access to all the functionality of the underwater lighting system, with several additional features thrown in – in fact it does everything that the standard Lumishore EOS system controller can do. Designed for use with Lumishore’s SUPRA (dual colour) and EOS (colour change) lights, you can set groups of lights into zones, and can activate sweep or cycle modes at the press of a screen button. You can also select any hue of lighting for the colour-change LEDs by simply moving a finger across the palette display. “For the zonal control,” says Evans, “you can add zones so that the swimming pool lights are one colour, then user-defined zones after that are the colours you select – or you can sync everything together, It’s just a very quick and easy way to control all [our] colour lights on the boat.”
The zones are set simply by going to a preferences/set-up page, and this method of grouping the lights also has benefits for the shipyard. “It’s great for boatbuilders, because they don’t have to worry,” Evans enthuses. “They can just put the lights in and then we do it afterwards, just once. The method of zoning is simple – you can drag and drop lights into the different zones, for example. There’s just so many different options of control for it.”
“It’s great for boatbuilders, because they don’t have to worry [about zoning],” Evans enthuses. “They can just put the lights in and then we do it afterwards, just once"
At the Autumn shows, Lumishore was showing off the Lumi-Link system integrated into Garmin MFDs with the interface design sitting seamlessly into the Garmin MFD style. “We’re very excited about that because they are the largest in the industry for leisure marine electronics,” says Evans, “but we’re not just working with them. They are the first, but we are also working with the rest too. Garmin chose us as a launch partner.”
Another feature of the system which is sure to draw a lot of attention is the highly advanced sound-to-light function. Rather than just flashing different colour lights, the system takes a far more interesting – and far more customisable – approach. “You can change the sensitivity to get different effects and things,” says Evans. “You can change the background colours, and it splits the music into lows, mids and highs, and then splits the colours accordingly to create different effects. There’s a lot of intelligence even in this sound-to-light function.” To demonstrate, Evans fires up some music and the development lab is instantly transformed into an other-worldly nightclub as the connected lights flow and pulse through a thousand different shades in perfect harmony with the music track. “And this is only for the underwater lights!” Evans adds above the beat. “We’ve had a lot of people coming to us asking if they can use it for the pool, cockpit lighting and everything else…”
The black box unit itself comes with two I/O connections – one that goes to Lumishore’s lights and the other that goes to the MFD in the form of an HTML/Ethernet cable, and effectively the unit is an interface board between the MFD and the EOS system in the background. “It means you have two options,” Evans says. “You can either install the EOS and have an interface module that replicates the controls on an MFD or you can just install this black box version, which means you don’t have a [dedicated] controller on the boat, it’s all done from the MFD or your phone, tablet or whatever. The logical thing would be just to have the black box, although it might be handy on a large boat to have a dedicated MFD at the back so when you go swimming you can just switch the lights on, activate sound-to-light and off you go – so having a small dedicated screen at the back of the boat might be a nice feature.”
Currently, the Lumi-Link controller and system has been designed for Lumishore’s underwater lights and will not work with other manufacturer’s lights, but Evans and Lumishore’s CEO Eifrion Evans both tell me that there will be some exciting developments in the next few months. Among these is a strong hint that Lumishore is looking beyond just underwater lighting. Given the backgrounds of the brains involved in developing product, it seems like a logical step. Watch this space for exclusive updates…
We take a detailed look at the challenges of underwater lighting and retrofitting in refit projects in the forthcoming issue 184 of The Superyacht Report. Have you subscribed to The ‘new’ Superyacht Report? If you are a captain, owner, yacht manager, chief engineer, first officer, broker, designer, senior shipyard management, an owner’s representative, investor, or a family office, you are eligible for a complimentary annual subscription to the only superyacht industry publication worth reading. To apply for your VIP subscription, click here.
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