Don’t let your long-lasting LED lights turn “dumb” when IoT technology changes

by Brianna Crandall — May 12, 2017 — Leading lighting and light-emitting diode (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, says the group. 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, says the group. 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, points out the Alliance. 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 that is being answered by the IoT-Ready Alliance. Costello stated:

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 as new technology is developed.

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

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.

The Alliance is open to any organization interested in driving the future of IoT and smart buildings. Visit the IoT-Ready Alliance site for more information.