December 16, 2020
We have a UL behind-the-scenes story worth sharing that coincides with the Lighting & Homes for Tomorrow (LHFT) Connected Home Competition results that were recently released.
If you’re curious about how an annual competition is conducted during the COVID-19 global pandemic, one that requires multiple expert judges from around the country to provide feedback on dozens of competing products, the story ends in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This is where UL’s performance laboratory conducts lighting photometric testing, ISTA package testing and environmental testing, along with retail brand testing of products to help ensure that quality requirements of retailers are maintained. This year, it also served as the location where the competition entries were shipped, installed and operated during the weeklong judging process.
Unlike previous years, the experts were not able to attend the judging in person due to health risks, but they still needed to be able to be hands-on with the products, to engage in detailed discussions about the attributes of the entries, and to — in the end — vote on their impressions. Travel, of course, was not an option, so how did UL modify the procedures In order to enable the virtual judging?
UL employee Bhavik Shah, laboratory leader, and his team first had to install and commission the entries it received. This was no small task, especially as the existing laboratory networks designed for an industrial site had to replicate the residential networks we have become accustomed to. After making these modifications, the commissioning of each product was conducted. While some of the products’ activation was intuitive, others required a few rounds with the installation instructions. As the ease of installation impacted the usability portion of scoring, notes were made for those products that were easy or difficult to install.
The Allentown team was also challenged with setting up mobile video and lighting so that online interactive sessions would flow efficiently when moving from one entry to another. During the sessions, the team accommodated each of the judges’ questions when the set up or the manufacturing quality was discussed.
The end result was a smooth-running competition and the resulting winners receiving key market attention. While future competitions may return to in-person events, the Allentown team stepped up during a time when it was questionable if COVID-19 would disrupt yet another event.