Lighting, and specificially LED lighting is one of the main drivers of the Internet of Things. So far, municipalities, offices, and consumers are just touching the surface of what is technically feasible.
Several years ago Philips launched what was among the first commercial products controlled through an iPhone app, the HUE. The color changing light could be programmed to be any color. The program allowed scheduling of the lighting and color changes among several lights. Subsequent products included a gateway and light kit to control more Hue lamps.
Cree now offers a 2700K connected LED light bulb through Home Depot for $14.97. While the Cree connected LED light bulb does not change color, it is dimmable. The Cree Connected LED Bulb works with either Wink or a ZigBee certified hub.
Other companies have launched ZigBee -based controls for various lighting applications. ZigBee is an open standard for Internet of Things-based lighting controls.
The industry has made few consumer products so far using IoT-based controls.
However, two areas in which the industry has made significant progress are in office lighting and municipal lighting.
Municipal lighting and office lighting are ideal applications for IoT-based controls. Additionally, they can take advantage of data collection and analysis tools.
Echelon is one company who makes IoT-based lighting controls and analytics systems for both office and municipal lighting applications.
Companies such as Cree have made major inroads in municipal markets with their LED-based street lights. Cree LED street lights were among those of several companies used in Los Angeles which is the largest municipal LED lighting installation to date. Other companies have provided the lighting controls.
Philips Lighting has also made inroads with municipal lighting. Philips LED lights were also among the Los Angeles LED-based streetlight installation. Additionally, Philips deployed its streetlight asset management system City Touch. Philips also announced plans to provide SmartPoles for the streetlights which integrate 4G technology from Ericson to improve network availability.
GE Lighting has begun partnering with Sensity Systems, which produces sensor technology and offers data analytics tools. GE intends to go beyond lighting to also offer solar energy storage (batteries), and GE’s Predix platform of real-time data analytics in a business it calls Current.
Another international lighting company Osram has launched the Lightify platform that employs a ZigBee-based set of controls for lighting. The platform has a gateway that works with a router and connects to a PC through a wireless local area network. The
Acuity Brands has also partnered with Sensity Systems. Sensity Systems’ NetSense platform serves as the foundation for its Light Sensory Network of communicating sensors. According to Sensity, the Light Sensory Network can enhance energy efficiency through real-time data analytics.
Data analytics such as what Echelon and Sensity Systems provides the ability to optimize light use while dimming, scheduling, and monitoring power usage. Some systems can even monitor light output of certain fixtures in an installation to tell you when you need to replace the light sources. Occupancy and motion sensing can add to energy savings by allowing the light to dim will no one is present.
A wide array of other services and capabilities are possible with data analytics. Echelon said that its new control, monitoring and analytics system for street lights enables the sensing of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns. These patterns can help the system schedule the light dimming during slow traffic times.
Other applications that some companies and municipalities have investigated but have not yet implemented include using LED lighting sensors in parking garages to offer smart parking that will let you know where open parking spaces with a phone app.
Chicago’s Mayor Rohm Emanuel announced an inquiry into what is possible with LED streetlight systems. He hinted at looking into possible revenue generating services. Smart parking, although not specifically mentioned, could be one of these.
Data analytics indoors offers a wide range of options that designers are just beginning to imagine and implement. Building automation is the first aspect of this revolution in lighting controls and data analytics. Echelon reported that its Lumewave system enables the sensing to some degree of accuracy of building usage patterns. Different zones within a building have different usage and dimming rules.
Echelon said that its specialized motion, heat detection, and data analytics system can estimate the number of occupants in a room and can set lighting preferences for individual offices. Echelon gave the example of one client finding out that it had an enormous office that only one person regularly used, while everyone else worked from home or was traveling most of the time! Needless to say, finding this out saved the company money.
Other potential applications include changing the HVAC temperature in a room to reflect user preferences. In an ideal case a system could average the preselected optimal temperature of all conference VIPs carrying smartphones, which are allowed to control the climate for a filled conference room. Such control while not currently done, is well within the realm of possibilities.
Other potential applications in municipal street lighting include brightening or dimming or even flashing certain sections of street lights to help Emergency first responders see where to go. Again, no one has implemented such as system yet, but it is certainly technically feasible.
Applications that combine the Internet of Things and lighting are limited only by our imaginations. The possibilities are just around the corner.