The lumen revolution

Trend researcher and futurist Matthias Horx on the opportunities
and risks of the digitalization of light.

Matthias Horx (62), trend researcher and futurist, founder of the “Zukunftsinstitut” (Future Institute) based in Frankfurt and Vienna

If aliens had dropped in from hyperspace with their spaceships 50 years ago and directed their telescopes at Earth, human civilization would have remained hidden from view. The wavelengths of normal light would have contained virtually no sign of our existence.


Things are different today. The world is becoming a brighter place. When astronauts in the International Space Station pass over inhabited continents, a veritable carpet of light stretches out below them for many hundreds of kilometers. Conurbations are growing denser, electrification has reached emerging countries and the world’s population is growing. More people – more light.


Digitalization is also subjecting light to a huge technological revolution, making it more adaptive and transforming it into digital electronics. As a result, light is one of the biggest business areas right now.


But the digitalization of light also comes with risks. It is all too easy to be dazzled by bright lights no matter where you look and to forget that a well-balanced life includes moments of darkness as well. Awareness is one of the key criteria of the digital future. In the future to come, light should continue to serve the well-being of humankind.


Matthias Horx