With the attitude of modern society towards energy conservation, there is a significant focus on the consumption and the efficiency of buildings. Buildings account for around 40% of energy usage in developed nations, and up to 30% of that can be consumed purely by our desire for artificial light.
Smart lighting as part of the Internet of Things is still relatively uncommon, but advances in wireless technologies are enabling more rapid uptake of these systems in commercial and indeed residential markets where a carefully selected and commissioned lighting control system can maximise energy savings and make our spaces at work and at home more comfortable.
The latest iteration of Bluetooth standards are beginning to address a number of drawbacks from earlier smart systems, to the point where not only is it capable, but owing to the addition of supporting low power mesh networks, it is actively promoted by the Bluetooth Special Interests Group as a viable system for commercial lighting control.
It is the advent of Class 2 Bluetooth devices used in the Low Energy (LE) 4.0 specification and onwards, that allow small ~2.5mW transmitters to cover ranges up to 10m in ideal conditions. When used in a mesh configuration with flood messaging, we begin to meet requirements for a simple, reliable, scalable, wireless network, and importantly, all without the need for a central hub. With a central hub taken out of the equation, a single failure point in the network will not stop messages being received by other nodes, provided the node to receive a message is within range of another. This effectively gives a flood mesh self-healing properties, which is essential for monitoring and reporting on safety critical systems such as emergency lighting. The other quite significant advantage is that almost any modern smart phone has all the hardware necessary to communicate with any Bluetooth network, provided the device is secure and validated for use on that network.
We know that he concept of smart lighting is by no means a new one, but with more traditional standards such as DALI being developed to accommodate these wireless technologies, it is quickly being adopted for lighting spaces in all walks of life, becoming more innovative, intelligent, and ultimately focussed on the conservation of resources.