A lot happened this year in the IoT-connected lighting realm. Numerous companies came out with new IoT-based lighting products, sensors, controllers, and software and platforms. However, Philips appears to be the biggest mover and shaker of the IoT lighting world for the year.
In a milestone of its wide-ranging adoption, Philips Lighting’s most significant achievement in the IoT segment for 2017 was its completion the 1000th installation of the Philips CityTouch System in the first stage of upgrading the street lights in Cardiff, UK. (Ref. Coverage). The CityTouch System enables control and monitoring of a municipality’s street lights and offers lighting asset management as well.
Philips IoT lighting accomplishments for the year were not limited to municipalities and city infrastructure. The company also unveiled InterAct Office system and launched its lighting as a service business model. (Ref. Coverage). The InterAct Office lighting system offers what the company claims to be future-proof IoT lighting with embedded sensors. The system provides a cloud-based control and monitoring backend which the company takes care of for a monthly subscription fee.
What is unique about this business arrangement is that the subscription-based model lets companies benefit from IoT-based lighting controls and monitoring and intelligence without the upfront purchase and installation costs. I expect other big companies to come out with similar services and plans.
In another IoT-related innovation, Philips Lighting and American Tower agreed to develop a 4G- and 5G-extending smart pole. (Ref. Coverage). While this does not necessarily apply to street lights, the smart pole technology will help increase the bandwidth availability in urban locations.
Also, during 2017 numerous companies worked together to develop IoT-based lighting products. For example, Acuity Brands partnered with Silver Spring Networks on the development of its DTL® DSN intelligent photocontrol. (Ref. Coverage).
Another notable IoT product launch for the year came from Acuity Brands, which introduced the Atrius Spaces Occupancy Data Platform as part of the company’s overall IoT solution. (Ref. Coverage). Atrius Spaces reportedly gets data from the Atrius Sensory Network (through nLight® lighting controls from Acuity Brands).
The industry also had a number of important acquisitions in the IoT world. Osram acquired the Industrial IoT solution firm, Digital Lumens. (Ref. Coverage). Digital Lumens customers pay a monthly fee for IoT-based control and monitoring service. Also, energy and water resource management company Itron purchased IoT connectivity platform company, Silver Spring Networks. (Ref. Coverage).
Cree also came out with IoT solutions in 2017 including the SmartCast Intelligence Platform and SmartCast Advisor App. (Ref. Coverage).Unlike some other IoT platforms, Cree reportedly developed all of the sensors, and software for the SmartCast Intelligence platform in-house.
Amazon Alexa Catches On
IoT-connected lighting systems found wider adoption in cities and offices. Also, connected lighting has begun to catch on in the consumer market through Amazon’s Echo equipped with Alexa, which offers voice control for lighting, and Internet searches, music playing, etc. Google is trying to compete with the Amazon’s Alexa platform with its Assistant product, but so far has not garnered the wide-spread adoption that Amazon’s product has. Now, my 94-year-old grandmother uses Alexa to turn on and off lights, play music, and occasionally look up crossword puzzle clues. The lights are what she uses it for most often.
In the next year, I expect more connected lighting and connected lighting apps to catch on among consumers, especially with adjusting lighting for comfort, biorhythm adjustment, and to promote relaxation or stimulation depending on their needs.