Our Journey to 2017 Company of the Year

December 18, 2017
Enlighted

This article originally appeared in The Technology Headlines.

LEDs Magazine Sapphire Awards 2018
Joe Costello
Chairman & CEO, Enlighted

For years, Tanuj Mohan – a spirited individual in his late twenties, found himself programming alone at night optimizing code to achieve the last bit of performance while sitting in a fully lit and air-conditioned building. Seeing the daily wastage of resources, Tanuj applied his networking skills to find a solution to the problem. As time passed, he saw the onset of cheap, powerful microprocessors, ubiquitous wireless, and LEDs, and felt this was the right time to bring IoT and network managing concepts to the commercial market place. Tanuj co-founded Enlighted, a company dedicated to redefining smart buildings with its first-in-class sensor and data analytics IoT platform.

For Tanuj however, it was just a prelude to the events yet to come. Though Tanuj built the most advanced sensor platform at the time with onboard processors, he needed a location for the sensors to effectively implement and scale IoT technology across entire buildings. This is where the idea of leveraging the building lighting surfaced in Tanuj’s mind. “Lighting is everywhere in the building, allowing sensors to collect extremely granular data if installed in every ambient light fixture. Lighting could also provide power to the sensors, eliminating the costly maintenance required of battery powered IoT devices. This breakthrough idea changed smart buildings as we all know it, with lighting now playing a critical role in the deployment of IoT in commercial real estate,” says Tanuj, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Enlighted.

However, at that time, this approach of installing a sensor in every light fixture was still not practically possible. Because a building could require tens of thousands of sensors; the resulting data would quickly overwhelm typical network technology. But Tanuj, who had worked on building networks at the wireless networking company Tropos, knew it was possible to overcome this limitation with an approach called mesh networking. “In a mesh network, each node connects to one or more neighbouring nodes instead of directly to the central hub. That way the hub doesn’t get overloaded with connections from all the different devices,” adds Tanuj. Additionally, security was an essential component Tanuj considered from the start. He knew the importance of a “built-in” model of IoT security rather than adding on security with a “bolt-on” approach later. Architecting the solution from the ground-up with new proprietary mesh networking technology combined with robust security concepts built-in, enabled a scalable, secure solution for even the largest commercial buildings to now be possible.

The last key to the puzzle was economic: How to make the solutions cost-effective for widespread deployment right from the start. Here again placing the sensors in the light fixtures provided a breakthrough. Those advanced sensors could also make each individual light intelligent. They could detect conditions including ambient light and occupancy, and optimize each light for both the best occupant experience and energy efficiency. This resulting energy savings could be used to actually fund the installation of the IoT platform across the building with no up-front capital required. It also helped organizations to meet their environmental and energy reduction goals.

Right from the early stages of the journey, Enlighted’s real mission was to provide customers data and insight into what is happening in the building, data that was never before available. The idea of the building providing real-time information about business processes and resources is what Enlighted calls Brilliant Buildings. Today, the Enlighted System is installed in 175 million square feet of space and features three software applications: Lite, Space, and Aire. And the Enlighted IoT platform is software upgradable, easily adding new capabilities and security updates as they become available—ultimately future-proofing the system.

Enlighted’s Top-notch Sensors and their Dynamics
Enlighted’s core competency is collecting big data through advanced sensors located in ambient light fixtures, and its ability to help customers reach long-range sustainability goals. Saving money and increasing efficiency was the first step, enabling customers to deploy the IoT platform at scale. The company’s smart sensors are installed one-for-one in ambient lighting, collecting massive amounts of highly granular data. The collected data is stored in the cloud, then organized, analyzed, and reported in web-based applications. Thereupon, the Lite software application is used to manage the lighting control component of the system. Aire is the first in the industry to save energy by providing data for demand-driven heating or cooling. Using the data collected by Enlighted’s advanced sensor network and occupancy application, Aire enables facility managers to direct cooling or heating in real time to the space where occupants are working. The Space application provides buildings owners and real estate executives detailed views of workspaces and employee movement to empower executives to make decisions that increase productivity, optimize workspaces and drive cost-saving initiatives. From the time the company forayed into the industry with its Enlighted IoT Platform to its latest roll out of Aire and Space software applications, the company has continually fostered a culture of innovation in the industry. Its commitment to the advancement of the IoT, founding the IoT-Ready Alliance alongside Tridonic, has been highly-acclaimed. The IoT-Ready Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization working to standardize the key interface characteristics needed to future-proof lighting fixtures with IoT technology.

Since its inception in 2009, the Enlighted System has evolved from lighting optimization to a sensory system, giving buildings “consciousness.” The system collects data on everything from occupancy, to light levels, temperatures, space usage, assets and more. The intelligence can be used to drive down operating costs, improve indoor environments, and unlock revenue opportunities.

Tanuj concludes, “The Enlighted IoT platform continues to rapidly progress. As we expand its capabilities, we will roll out new sensors, software apps and machine learning capabilities that will provide even greater insight and optimizations about the business processes occurring in the building, and the resources being consumed by and in the building. Ultimately, running a business from a Brilliant Building will provide significant competitive advantage to its occupants.”

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