The transformation of lighting has been exciting, and it certainly has its own set of complexities and frustrations—as is the case with all new technologies. In a continued effort to help decipher what this all means, we queried lighting designers and manufacturers about how they stay up to date and navigate the ongoing seismic shift. Jim Anderson, Eric Lind, Tobin Richardson, and Sohrab Modi offered their view on how the Internet of Things is affecting the lighting industry.

Jim Anderson, Market Segment Manager, Philips Lighting:
“By considering the landscape through the lens of our customers, we see lighting as having an effect on the Internet of Things. Lighting is ubiquitous—it’s everywhere that people work, travel, shop, dine, study, relax and interact. Digital communications and LED lighting are transforming existing lighting infrastructure into information pathways with the capacity to collect and share data, and that offer new insights that enable—and drive—the Internet of Things.”

Eric Lind, Vice President, Global Specifications, Lutron:
“Virtually every building system can now participate in the Internet of Things, and lighting control is no exception. Intuitive new apps and Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) can turn your smart device into a de facto command center that helps unlock a lighting control system’s full potential anywhere—from the most sophisticated, state-of-the art building to your family home.

Automated control systems can seamlessly manage lights, shades, and temperature in response to pre-defined building settings, scenes, time clocks, or user-defined events. Data collected from a smart lighting system can help a facilities team understand how a building is used, what spaces are occupied and when, and where a building is using most of its electricity. With the right control system, building managers can then connect to the system from anywhere in the building—or the world—to optimize building performance, respond to occupant requests, enhance comfort, and improve building value.

Through apps, users can also make fine adjustments to automated control setting that enhance the human-centric elements of any space, meet and exceed energy codes and mandates, and help achieve requirements for certifications, such as LEED.”

Tobin Richardson, President and CEO, Zigbee Alliance:
“Smart lighting is one of the most approachable areas for people to take their first IoT steps as companies, such as Philips, Osram, and Schneider Electric, have made it convenient, efficient, and quite simply cool for users to control the lighting systems around them via voice control or a smartphone. Not only do we have the option to control our lights from near or far, we now can also personalize our lighting experiences by adjusting brightness and hue to create the right mood for every occasion—or to support our favorite sports teams through the right color combination.

Through organizations such as the Zigbee Alliance, we’re seeing technology manufacturers collaborate on initiatives such as dotdot, a universal IoT language that lets smart objects speak to each other across any wireless network in the home, building, or neighborhood. The Internet of Things is helping not only connect humans to their devices, but also connect devices to each other, regardless of brand or borders, to bring a whole new level of possibilities in linking different—and previously siloed—objects to one another.”

Sohrab Modi, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Engineering, Echelon:
“Lighting controls provide an opportunity for data analytics, but by itself may not constitute as big data. However, by having an intelligent, extensible platform that is deployed in a lighting infrastructure, you create a conduit for other elements that can generate data and knowledge, the confluence of which can give you deeper insights into the decisions that your clients can make.

One thing you learn very early is that you don’t make assumptions. You have to get the right people involved to make the right call. Depending on the technology we implement and what we have to build to, we work with partners and customers to understand what they’re looking for today and how we can help them lay a foundation to address future needs.People are accustomed to doing something their way for the last 50 years. When they are asked to change to something new, like an IoT platform, one, they don’t quite understand it; and two, they don't see why they should at this point. Even people who are more forward-thinking may say, “I have this completely electronic system that is mine—but I now have to share its controls and data with you?” The big challenges moving forward will be education and the integration of different departments.”

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