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New IoT-Ready™ Alliance to Establish Industry Standard for IoT Sensor Installation in LED Lighting Fixtures

May 18, 2017
Enlighted

This article originally appeared in LED Professional magazine.

Industry-leading organizations like Enlighted, Tridonic and DesignLights Consortium™ are working to establish a standard for “IoT-Ready™” light fixtures that can easily be upgraded with sensors and connectivity modules after installation.

Leading lighting and LED driver manufacturers, Internet of Things (IoT) technology companies, and industry groups have established the IoT-Ready™ Alliance, dedicated to making installation of IoT technology in luminaires easy now and in the future. The Alliance is setting industry standards that will enable LED light fixtures to be “IoT-Ready™,” facilitating a quick and easy installation of advanced IoT sensors – as simple as changing a light bulb. This will also enable building operators to easily upgrade the sensors, ultimately future-proofing their buildings as IoT technology continues to advance at a much more rapid pace than that of LED fixtures.

Lighting fixtures are an ideal carrier for IoT technology in smart buildings, providing ubiquitous location for granular data collection throughout the building while delivering electric power to the sensors. Yet today, only a small percentage of LED fixtures have smart sensors. After the initial installation of LED fixtures, installing a sensor is cost prohibitive, making the later addition of sensors unlikely.

LED light fixtures typically boast a long lifetime of 15 years or more, while IoT and smart sensor technology is evolving rapidly, at a similar pace to that of the mobile phone. This means major IoT technology upgrades will certainly occur throughout the LED fixture’s life. These upgrade cycles for the IoT sensors call for a cost-effective, low-impact method of changing sensors.

Enlighted CEO Joe Costello stresses the need to solve this challenge immediately – a call which is being answered by the IoT-Ready™ Alliance. “There is tremendous urgency to enable today’s shipping LED luminaires to be easily upgraded with IoT technology. Otherwise, these luminaires condemn buildings to be unintelligent for the entire lifecycle of those fixtures. Fifteen or more years is a long time before building owners have another chance to install smart sensors. With IoT-Ready™ fixtures, customers can install future-proof LED luminaires in their buildings.”

The Alliance’s initiative addresses this challenge head on – standardizing an interface between any luminaire and any IoT sensor. This allows the sensors to be easily added or upgraded at any point in time.

“We are very pleased key players from the lighting industry have come together to meet the needs of our customers, and Tridonic is a driving part of it,” said Guido van Tartwijk, CEO at Tridonic. “IoT-Ready™ future-proofs lighting fixtures so that customers do not have to worry about forward compatibility to upcoming technology upgrades that are expected in the fast-developing world of IoT.”

The IoT-Ready™ Alliance is currently working to standardize the key interface characteristics needed to make this happen. Both fixture-integrated and external sensors are being addressed. The IoT-Ready standards will include definitions for electrical interfaces, connectors, and mechanical form-factors.

“IoT-based lighting systems have tremendous potential to optimize energy efficiency and bring new kinds of value to the lighting and building industries and beyond,” said Gabe Arnold, Technical Director at DesignLights Consortium™. “By standardizing the interface between these IoT systems and the luminaires they are attached to, the IoT-Ready™ Alliance is addressing an essential aspect needed to unlock the full technology potential and enable widespread adoption.”

Initial industry participants include Aruba (a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company), Click Technology Co., Ltd., DECO Lighting, DesignLights Consortium™, Enlighted, ERP Power LLC, Focal Point, MEAN WELL, Orion Energy Systems, Inc., Selux, Shenzhen Lighting Control Co., Silergy Corp, Tridonic, Universal Lighting Technologies and USAI Lighting.

ABOUT THE IOT-READY™ ALLIANCE
IoT-Ready™ is an alliance of leading lighting, building management, and Internet of Things (IoT) companies and organizations that are creating a common standard for IoT-enabled lighting fixtures. This standard will ensure all new LED lighting fixtures can be shipped with a standard socket to easily add intelligent IoT sensors to the fixture after the fixture has been installed.

IoT-Ready™ Alliance Backgrounder

What is the IoT-Ready™ Alliance?
IoT-Ready™ is an alliance of leading lighting, building management, and Internet of Things (IoT) companies that are creating a common standard for IoT-enabled lighting fixtures. This standard will ensure all new LED light fixtures will be shipped with a standard socket to easily add intelligent IoT sensors to the fixture after the fixture has been installed. It will also enable the IoT sensor to be easily replaced and upgraded during the life of the fixture.

Why now?
The LED lighting revolution is accelerating. It is estimated 350 million LED light fixtures will ship worldwide this year. One hundred forty million of these fixtures will ship in the United States. Unfortunately, less than 5 percent of new LED fixtures are shipping with an IoT sensor. Since LED fixtures last decades, this creates enormous infrastructure lock-in risk for companies that adopt LED lighting that is not IoT-Ready™. Upgrading to IoT after an LED fixture is installed is prohibitively expensive. Therefore, fixtures that ship without a sensor, or an IoT-Ready™ socket, will condemn the building to be unintelligent for the lifetime of the fixture – potentially decades.
Additionally, IoT sensor technology is advancing rapidly, and will undergo generational updates during the 15-20+ year lifetime of the light fixture. It is important to future-proof the fixture to enable it to support sensor upgrades as needed. For these reasons, it is imperative that the lighting industry comes together to make IoT-Ready™ lighting the industry standard, immediately.

What is the relationship between lighting and the IoT?
Lighting fixtures are the perfect place to install IoT sensors. Lighting is everywhere and sensors need power, which lighting fixtures possess. Also, lighting fixtures have perfect spatial density. They are designed to illuminate every square foot of a building. By installing IoT sensors into the lighting fixtures, it becomes possible to measure and optimize every square foot of space within a building.
LED fixtures with IoT sensors installed create immediate lighting energy savings of up to 90 percent in a building. Once installed, this IoT sensor grid immediately enables a host of high-value applications like HVAC optimization, space planning, asset tracking, safety and security enhancements, and more.

What problem does this solve for the lighting industry?
When companies install LED lighting the decision is mostly driven by areas of the company that are not involved with the IoT decision. So unless they are told to install an IoT system by the eventual user of the building, they might “value engineer” the IoT sensors out of the install. Or some companies might be ready to upgrade to LED lighting, but may not yet be ready to select and deploy an IoT system. IoT-Ready™ solves this problem by ensuring the LED fixtures are manufactured with a standardized socket for a smart IoT sensor. This allows building owners to upgrade their lighting today, while feeling secure that the eventual occupant of the building can select an IoT system of their choice later.

It also makes upgrading the IoT solution painless. IoT-Ready™ makes upgrading to lighting-based IoT simple, easy and cost-effective.

Does IoT-Ready™ apply to all buildings?
Today, IoT-Ready™ is being targeted at commercial and public buildings – offices, factories, warehouses, stores, schools, hospitals, etc.

Who can participate?
Any company or individual in the lighting, IoT or related industries should become a member. It will take the entire industry to make IoT-Ready™ a success, so everyone is strongly encouraged to join. There are a variety of membership levels available. Please visit www.iot-ready.org for details.

Why start the IoT-Ready™ Alliance – aren’t there already many standards organizations that do this?
While there are many standards bodies that work in IoT and lighting, the sensor-luminaire interface is actually an area that has seen very little standards activity to date. The IoT-Ready™ Alliance structure is being carefully designed to allow rapid progress on well-defined problems, like the sensor-luminaire interface. Speed is of the essence.