In December of 2015 and the first couple months of 2016, a lot has happened in the LED lighting industry related to the Internet of Things. The biggest news comes from Current, powered by GE. Current powered by GE got a contract to install LED lighting at 500 branch locations of J.P. Morgan Chase. (Ref: article). The LED lighting and control solution is expected to reduce the company’s energy usage for lighting by 50 percent. According to Current, this is equivalent to taking 27,000 cars off the road. Current also reported an intended agreement with Capgemini to unleash more than 200 developers on its Predix software, which opened for general availability.
The developers plan to create software solutions that help Current’s commercial and industrial customers use networked systems and sensors in buildings and cities to reduce power consumption, generate power onsite, and drive new revenue streams. Current will use Intel® IoT Platform with its intelligent streetlamps. Intel’s IoT Platform is an edge to cloud reference architecture with hardware and software building blocks from Intel. The Intel products enable quick processing of large and evolving data loads with the reliability and flexibility that cities need.
AT&T and ShotSpotter and other companies have also been partnering with Current in the intelligent cities market.
In a unique project, Simon property group reported that it is working with Acuity Brands on a pilot program that will use sensor data from outdoor LED lighting systems to monitor parking lot vehicle counts and occupancy data. (Ref: article). Property management company, Simon, intends to use the data to help efficiently manage traffic and parking at Lenox Square in Atlanta, Georgia and Florida Mall in Orlando, Florida.
Parking lot density will be monitored via existing Acuity Brands lighting fixtures installed throughout the two malls. Existing Acuity Brands LED lighting fixtures in the mall parking lots will be equipped with sensors. The sensors will transmit occupancy data via WiFi to an online dashboard. A specially-created software will produce color-coded maps for visualizing the density of cars in parking lots and highlighting locations where there are parking spaces available.
In unrelated IoT news, Cree in collaboration with Cisco has launched its SmartCast® Power over Ethernet (PoE) platform for IoT controlled lighting and data analytics in buildings. (Ref: article). SmartCast PoE is reportedly the first LED lighting platform that can work with the Cisco® Digital Ceiling framework. Cree asserts that its SmartCast PoE system can make buildings more efficient and people more productive. According to Cree, the system can also deliver far better light and consume less energy than ordinary LED lighting. Power over Ethernet bring another impressive capability to Cree’s SmartCast system for smart, connected lighting solutions. Drawing power from the Ethernet gives enterprise customers a way of quickly powering new lighting without connecting to the mains power line.
In a sign that venture capitalists see a big future in IoT products and services, Enlighted, a startup that competes with companies such as Digital Lumens and Echelon, raised $25 million in Series D funding. (Ref: Article). Also, Enlighted reported that Square 1 Bank, a division of Pacific Western Bank extended the company a new $20 million line of credit. Enlighted plans to use the line of credit to help companies finance the installation of their IoT nodes with LED lighting controls in their numerous office buildings and locations at once.
On the softwide side of IoT systems, amBX has introduced its SmartCore software to work with IoT-based lighting systems. (Ref:Article). The SmartCore system uses five different types of sensors: occupancy, daylight harvesting, color temperature, air quality, and room humidity and temperature. Users can select different scenes such as presentation or meeting from a graphic user interface on a tablet. These scenes have different color temperature requirements. The amBX software allows the system to respond to both a user control interface and ambient lighting conditions. The amBX SmartCore software reportedly plays an integral role in the Cisco Digital Ceiling, which combines multiple building networks such as lighting, HVAC, building automation, IP video, WiFi, and more.
While numerous applications have come from IoT connected products, including controlling and monitoring HVAC systems, and building automation, lighting remains a central feature of such systems. And businesses are beginning to see the potential savings and information such smart and connected systems can bring. Office buildings will be among the first mass adopters of IoT-based lighting systems and applications.