Smart Lighting Evolution: From Obedient to Intelligent (Part 2)

In Part 1, we covered the history of smart lighting technologies and key milestones in the industry. Today we are going to focus on the advantages of LED, which led to explosive growth in the smart lighting ecosystem, and also take a sneak peek into the future.

Why Has LED Drastically Transformed Smart Lighting Ecosystem?

A number of LED’s unique properties make the technology well-suited for the
rapid development of smart lighting solutions.

These are some key advantages of LED lamps in comparison with
traditional light sources (fluorescent, incandescent, etc.):

  • Increased efficiency (90-112 lumens per watt vs 10-17
    lumens for a traditional incandescent bulb).
  • Digital control
  • Microcontroller (MCU) placement inside the bulb.
  • Lower voltage. Devices produce less heat, are more
    compact, and are safer.
  • Simle Control. LED’s can be dimmed and change color
    with no additional standalone hardware.

Smart lighting solutions based on LED lamps are more energy-efficient,
occupy less space and, most importantly, can be integrated wirelessly into the IoT
system of an office, house, or building. Connected capabilities allow for
control and management of smart lighting systems with the help of dashboard, be
it a consumer app or enterprise-grade cloud-based software.

Wireless connectivity along with MCU capabilities allows not only for
the management of modern smart lighting systems, but also helps make them more
intelligent with the help of AI and ML algorithms and various sensors
integrated into IoT solutions.

There are many wireless communication protocols that can be used to connect and make smart LED lighting installations. Some of them, like Zigbee, are matured and widely used, others, like Thread, are just now starting to evolve.

The current, key wireless communication protocols for smart lightning
are:

  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • Thread
  • Wi-Fi
  • Zigbee
  • EnOcean
  • Z-Wave
  • 6LoWPAN

All of the above-mentioned technologies have their advantages and
disadvantages, but there’s no single wireless protocol which fits all the
specific requirements for a given use case.

One trend, though, has emerged and is gaining momentum. The shift from
proprietary protocols (Z-Wave, Lutron) to open ones (Zigbee, Thread, BLE). The enormous
and fast-growing smart lighting market dictates the need for interoperability,
transparency, lightning-fast bug fixing, and cost-cutting. All of these are
achieved by open communities of companies that share expertise, create common
platforms, and standardize different aspects of the technologies under the hood
of smart-lighting solutions.

According to a recent study (https://www.gminsights.com/pressrelease/smart-lighting-market) by Global Market Insights, LED lighting’s share in the global lighting market was 40% in 2019 and is expected to reach 80% by 2025 and in that time, the smart lighting market will surpass $23 billion. One of the key drivers fueling this growth will be a surge in wireless technology usage and the integration of smart lighting systems into IoT solutions for building automation, smart homes, and cities.

From Smart to Intelligent Lighting

Thanks to wireless technologies and internet connectivity, the smart
lighting of tomorrow will not just be a separate system to turn the lights on
and off with a tap on the phone screen, but a component of a more complex IoT
solution with sophisticated usage scenarios, powerful AI- and ML-driven data
analytics engines, and a vast array of sensors. Moreover, light sources
themselves will help to gather additional information such as the location of
people in the building for security purposes.

Though there are lots of challenges to overcome, such as security issues
and a lack of interoperability and a common platform, smart lighting of the future
will provide us with numerous possibilities to make our homes and workplaces
more personalized, more “green,” and more comfortable.

Imagine a day in the near future – the smartwatch on your wrist monitors
your heart rate and motion-monitoring capabilities paired with an AI-powered
health service, identifies the most appropriate time to wake you up. The smart
lighting system will be there to help you start the day refreshed and full of
energy, gently waking you from the sleep by imitating the colors of a sunrise in
your bedroom.

During the day, while you are away from home, your smart lighting and
the rest of your smart home system shift into a “green” energy-saving mode,
keeping the lights and the thermostat on at the levels required to keep your
energy costs and carbon footprint the lowest.

Later, a security camera with face recognition capabilities identifies
you as you approached your house, and the smart lighting sub-system of your
smart home switches to your favorite lighting scheme with personalized colors, intensity,
and locations, depending on the time of the day. This scheme is created with
the help of AI, which analyzes your behavior at home, gathering data from
numerous sources, including motion sensors and even your calendar.

AI-driven smart lighting connected to smart home/office solutions will
also help to resolve purely technical issues, such as new device commissioning
and setup.

So, welcome to the next stage of the smart lighting evolution: wireless,
intelligent, and human-centric.

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