The Networked Lighting Standards Bottleneck

As seemingly everyone in the electrical industry begins to shift their expectations of what lighting systems can do and the role they can play well beyond the light they shine – most of all in applications transmitting data from sensors and cameras – the question of long-term interoperability of lighting system components is growing more important and more urgent.

In a recent article in LEDs Magazine, Tanuj Mohan, founder and chief technology officer of Enlighted, Sunnyvale, Calif., a manufacturer of smart sensors and controls, looks at the existing options for wireless protocols and finds all of them lacking. The need for an open standard that supports advanced applications that would really make use of the Internet of Things hasn’t yet been satisfied by making changes to legacy protocols developed for simpler network functions. The prevailing option, ZigBee, a low-power mesh network standard, as well as most of the alternatives, were developed for small home-scale applications and face scalability problems when applied to larger commercial IoT networks, Mohan said.

Years ago, when new advanced lighting control systems with limited functionality were introduced, ZigBee filled the void for a standard. Fast-forward to today, though, and ZigBee has quickly grown obsolete for advanced lighting controls. It now in fact has become the source of bottlenecks, choking off the greatest source of value from modern enterprise IoT applications - all the data these applications produce.

Mohan expects a wireless networking standard for industrial and enterprise IoT applications, and specifically for lighting controls and smart building systems, to emerge in the next couple of years, and voices hope that it will include open application programming interfaces (APIs) to provide a platform for broader interoperability and innovation. “Deploying systems that have robust and open APIs will ensure that all your systems can work together, which ultimately is what is important,” he said.

Read: SSL industry waits for the right IoT standards and wireless protocols in LEDs Magazine

TAGS: Lighting
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