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What Successful Smart/Connected Lighting Technology Means

Feb 04, 2017

With the emergence of smart lighting I have been caught up in so many discussions regarding how quickly is it flourishing and all the things that need to be corrected within it. One of the most interesting conversations has been on how we work out the interoperability issues plaguing the smart lighting market right now. The problem being that if I buy company A’s connected/smart downlight that doesn’t mean that it will speak with company B’s sensor. Now, that’s not a very friendly environment now is it? This is quite inhibiting especially when the customer thinks that these devices are all supposed to provide the same functionality so intuitively they should all be able to work together. Then I was reminded of (well more like told about this since this must have happened well before I started using computers) that once upon a time if you had a Gmail account you couldn’t email someone with a yahoo account. There were also carrier charges associated with SMS and calling if you rang or texted someone who was not part of your network. Smart/connected lighting is going through these same issues that other technologies faced during the nascent stages of market introduction. However, as these other technologies evolved to cater to an open platform the adoption of these technologies increased. Now days you don’t even think when buying a Mac or Windows PC that if is going to work with the Wi-Fi router you have at home. It is a decision based on the price of the device and the functionalities you are willing to splurge on. I feel that our smart lighting industry is currently living in these silos that makes it very difficult for the end-user to as easily invest in connected/network LED luminaires as it does in their computing systems. I do not claim to have the solution on how we bypass this and make an open platform where smart lighting devices functions as smoothly as our smartphones, computers, and tablets. However, I do feel that in order to increase the adoption of smart lighting we need to work towards achieving this open platform where interoperability and compatibility between lighting devices is not an issue. I do understand that some manufacturers may be hesitant to share the same network platform with other manufacturers who they deem as having inferior products, they may want to disassociate themselves with other products as they think the consumer may question their quality. However consumers do acknowledge they that get what they pay for so, if two lighting devices of different quality grades are operating on the same network platform they will understand that most likely they should expect higher performance from the device with a higher price tag. Again, I do not claim to have the solution to the current issues facing smart lighting however I do anticipate that as we forge ahead interoperability and compatibility between lighting devices and networks will ensure a brighter future (pun intended). We will be discussing a lot of issues concerning connected/smart/IoT lighting this year at the Strategies in Light Conference happening in Munich.