The lighting industry is undergoing a revolution driven by LED technology. LED is is now the dominant lighting technology for all new buildings and retrofits. Yet today, only a small percentage of LED fixtures are supplied with IoT sensors installed. It was estimated 140 million LED fixtures were expected to be distributed in the United States in 2017, and less than 5 percent of them will be equipped with an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor. The LED lighting market is anticipated to grow 45% per year and reach $63.1 billion by 2020. IoT market is also growing very quickly and technology is progressing at fast pace. It would be good idea to have a common standard for IoT-enabled lighting fixtures. The LED market is currently mid-transformation, shifting its focus from energy efficiency to function values. There is some work going on to to make that happen.
The IoT-Ready Alliance is a non-profit group of companies coming together to create a common standard for IoT-enabled light fixtures. It will define a standard interface between light fixtures and a sensor/communication modules, allowing multi-vendor interoperability between light fixtures and IoT sensors. The IoT-Ready standards will include guidelines for electrical interfaces, connectors and mechanical form-factors.
The solution is planned to be as simple as changing a light bulb. Much like USB ports on computers, the IoT-Ready standard will allow for a huge variety of sensor and communication modules to plug into LED light fixtures. These devices can be added to the light fixture at the factory during fixture manufacture, or in the field at any time. So it will allow building operators to upgrade sensors easily which will actually ‘future-proof’ their buildings as IoT technology is progressing at a much faster rate compared to LED fixtures. LED fixtures often have a lifetime of about 15 years, so major upgrades is expected occur through the life of an LED fixture. At the moment installing a sensor to existing lamp can cost upward of $60 to $70 per fixture for electrician to do that, and with standard plug-an-play solution the cost can go down to $2 per IoT-Ready fixture. Today, IoT-Ready™ is being targeted at commercial and public buildings – offices, factories, warehouses, stores, schools, hospitals, etc.
In Europe there is work going on on designng modular LED lamps. The European Union is to spend £4m (€4.3m, US$5.27m) designing a light fitting made of component parts which can be easily manufactured and disassembled. The idea behind the Repro-light research project is to create an example of a sustainable luminaire whose parts are upgradable and recyclable. The aim is to change the industry’s view of the LED luminaire as a generic, disposable object into a customized product with high functional value. An intelligent LED-based luminaire with a modular, stackable architecture is hoped to “successfully initiate a transformation of the European LED lighting industry by the year 2020.” The Repro-light project value propositions are employing intelligence and having a positive impact on peoples’ health.
What’s not clear is the role of LED module standards body Zhaga in the project, as well as the rights to the intellectual property.