Getting LEDs “IoT-Ready” with New Alliance

May 17, 2017

This article was originally featured in Smart Cities World magazine.

Standardizing an interface between any luminaire and any IoT sensor allows the sensors to be easily added or upgraded at any point in time.

Leading lighting and LED driver manufacturers, Internet of Things (IoT) technology companies, and industry groups have set up the IoT-Ready Alliance to establish a standard for LED light fixtures.

The alliance wants to set industry standards that will enable LED light fixtures to be “IoT-Ready”, facilitating a quick and easy installation of advanced IoT sensors — as straightforward 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.

The alliance is working to standardise 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 optimise energy efficiency and bring new kinds of value to the lighting and building industries and beyond,” said Gabe Arnold, technical director at DesignLights Consortium, an alliance member.

“By standardising 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; DECO Lighting; DesignLights Consortium; Enlighted; ERP Power; Focal Point; MEAN WELL; Orion Energy Systems; Selux; Shenzhen Lighting Control Co; Silergy Corp; Tridonic; Universal Lighting Technologies; and USAI Lighting.