The term ‘perfect storm’ is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically, often with negative and calamitous results. The unique set of circumstances that are currently in place in the lighting/electronics industry at the moment certainly meet the first half of the definition but the results will be far from a calamity (unless you choose to bury your head in the sand and ignore what is going on around you). Quite the opposite, in years to come the results will become apparent as society adapts to new positive ways of working and co-operating.
The key component that is driving the onset of change in the lighting industry is the reduced power consumption coupled with an ever-increasing higher efficiency of LED modules. At the same time the Internet of Things is moving from the realms of our imagination to a real new and alternative way of running both our personal and business lives, and also managing an ever more complex society. The key to the success of the IoT though is data; gathering it, its analysis and then using it effectively and efficiently to produce new and hopefully better ways of working.
Now here is the thing, constrained IoT devices need a low power mesh network to reach its service application and because lighting is ubiquitous, and it is the only service or utility that can make this claim. It could, therefore, provide the perfect platform for IoT devices to communicate.
The fact that lighting is now more efficient than ever before and we can now configure lighting to be powered over an IT network using PoE (Power over Ethernet) or an IP Wireless network means that lighting can now operate on an IT infrastructure.
’So what?’ you may ask, but what can be leveraged from this kind of lighting infrastructure is not only data from lighting but from all those building management systems and other networks that will be co-existing and interoperating with lighting devices over this same network.
This is not the first time that a ’perfect storm’ has changed society; think of the industrial revolution when the development of steam power, coincided with increasing numbers of the population moving to urban areas, manufacturing was evolving and the rest, as we know is history.
The triggers are the same today in the early 21st century; an ever increasing urban population and the need and desire for business and society to work in a new and different way with engineering, or in this case, lighting, providing the wherewith all to make what may seem like a Utopian dream actually a reality.
In the future, lighting will be the low power mesh network that IoT devices will use in order for both them and us to grow, thrive and communicate, inside the homes, offices and municipal buildings and smart cities of the future. The only thing missing is an iconic engineer in a top hat!
Simon Blazey has a wealth of experience within the built environment, having worked for several of the major building automation manufacturers over a 25 year career. He held several key sales positions at Schneider Electric, managing a team of segment specialists covering key end user accounts and delivering fully integrated building automation and energy management solutions. Additional duties included building strategic partnerships to facilitate high level end user selling with a specific focus on building performance ie Energy optimisation and workplace performance. Due to the success in the UK Simon was also responsible for the deployment of this methodology across the Global Schneider business community.
More recently Simon’s role was building performance director at Armstrong Fluid Technology, working with end users developing carbon reduction strategies and projects. These relationships and his understanding of building performance has helped Simon in his Strategic Solution sales role at Tridonic, in particular with the beyond lighting strategy of IP connected buildings and cloud based lighting solutions, which are at the forefront of developments in lighting.