Connected lighting – the new killer application in IoT?

Emil Berthelsen – Principal Analyst, Machina Research

Facility Managers are open to innovations that will help them to reduce costs and add value to their customers. One such innovation may come from the providers of connected lighting services who have started to respond to the decline of a very traditional industry.

A traditional industry in decline

Over the last few years a number of changes have started to shake-up the lighting industry, which has been relatively unchanged for many decades. First, regulation and the banning of incandescent bulbs from shelves for environmental reasons has shifted consumers towards light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Second, with escalating energy costs, the switch to LED is viewed as a slightly costly yet highly welcome process for customers as power consumption by LEDs is a fraction of earlier lighting solutions. Finally, the product, with an extended lifetime approximately 50 times greater than incandescent bulbs, has evolved the manufacturing of bulbs to a more complex and potentially service-oriented industry through connected luminaires.

Evidence of this shift in the markets can be viewed from two angles. For traditional lighting players such as Osram, Philips, and GE, once having controlled more than 60% of the traditional lighting and lighting components industry, changes have been underway. Osram, once firmly in the Siemens group was officially spun-off in mid-2013, to enable the loss-making company to go through a significant restructuring, driving in LED growth. At the end of 2014, Philips itself has taken a dramatic move by splitting off its historical lighting activities and creating a separate business. GE, which recognized early on the shift towards LED continues to struggle together with its traditional industry partners in the face of rising competition from such companies as Cree (China) and  Nichia (Japan), pushing down LED prices every quarter.

The second angle relates to an emerging number of connected lighting solutions appearing in both consumer and enterprise environments. These new connected lighting solutions enable a range of new services from intelligent lighting control through mobile devices to integrations with other home systems, or more advanced lighting solutions addressing energy management, security services and space utilisation to quote a few examples. From this perspective, lighting remains an important function but an integrated function with other applications and services through connected luminaires.

New services in connected lighting

Similar to many other manufacturing industries, the lighting industry has started to recognise that in the Internet of Things, stand-alone products such as bulbs can no longer deliver the wider range of opportunities and revenues as, for example, smarter connected devices.  This development known as ‘servitisation´ involves the integration of services with connected devices, opening  opportunities for service providers to deliver new and innovative services to such customers as home owners and Facility Managers.

In the home, these services may include lighting systems which are able to intelligently communicate and interact with other systems in the home. Early systems included lighting systems integrated with cinema and home entertainment solutions. More recently, Qualcomm in close cooperation with LIFX have extended this concept to a much wider range of smart devices in the home. Without the need for a hub or translator, the new smart lighting platform from Qualcomm is fully compatible with the Allseen Alliance’s open-source Lighting Service Framework. This ensures interoperability with all AllJoyn enabled devices enabling, for example, notifications to be communicated through changing lights, or lighting colours and intensity to be coordinated with the tone of music.

In commercial indoor environments including offices, hospitals, universities, schools, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and museums, Facility Managers have started to experience some early trials of new services based on connected lighting. Instead of separately installed sensors with potential issues of power, location, connectivity, and so on, installing luminaires with the appropriate sensors has opened up a number of new cost-saving and customer improvement services for Facility Managers.

These new connected lighting services will potentially include:

Use casesDescriptionBenefitPrimary venues
HVAC Temperature and movement sensors to detect occupancy levels, and regulate heating or air conditioning levels as requiredIncreased energy management savingsOffices, schools, universities, museums, and hotels
Space utilisationSensors to determine movement with advanced analytics determining movement and occupancy flowsImproved space managementOffices, hotels
SecurityTemperature, humidity and movement sensors to detect intrusionsEnhanced security systems through increased detectionMuseums, offices, hospitals
Environmental monitoringAir quality sensors to detect dangerous gasses or high riskImproved health and safety in specific environmentsHospitals, universities


This list is far from exhaustive, and the market presents huge opportunities. Many traditional and new LED manufacturing companies such as Philips, Tridonic, Osram and Panasonic are exploring new opportunities and development paths in connected lighting, encouraged by such institutions as the Connected Lighting Alliance, now with over 30 members and growing.

Benefits will extend beyond Facility Managers

New services including HVAC management, space utilisation, security and environmental monitoring will be of operational and financial interest to Facility Managers. These services will also be of potential interest to other service providers who will be able to integrate data from these sources in more comprehensive solutions. These extended markets will include security companies, building management solution providers, and energy brokers to name a few.

Will connected lighting be a killer solution in IoT? No. But there is a lot of momentum behind upgrading lighting systems and introducing LEDs, particularly in a work setting. As such it has the potential to act as a gateway for numerous applications.



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