The Connected Lighting Alliance, which has focused on wireless standards for control of residential lighting, has formed a study group to look at the indoor professional lighting market.
GE Lighting, Lutron, Philips Lighting, OSRAM, Panasonic, and Toshiba Europe formed the industry consortium in August of last year. A technical working group spent months investigating open standards for wireless control of residential lighting before endorsing ZigBee Light Link in July.
ZigBee's inside track
That endorsement is hardly surprising given the Connected Lighting Alliance's membership structure and how it does business. Membership comes in two tiers. Regular members, which pay €25,000 ($34,000) per year, have the privilege of helping to decide what technical working groups will be convened to investigate standards in what areas. They also have the privilege of serving on the working groups. Associate members, at €2,500 per year, can do neither; think of that membership class as read-only.
Other than the six founders, there are only two regular member companies: NXP Semiconductors and Silicon Laboratories. Both companies have been involved in the ZigBee Alliance -- Silicon Labs at the Promoter level, the top class of participation and influence, and NXP at the Participant level, one tier down. NXP says on its website that it participates in more than 80 standardization bodies and consortia.
Silicon Labs has developed several ZigBee system-on-chip products. Lee Goldberg, founding editor of this site, covered the news last spring when Silicon Labs achieved the first Golden Unit certification for the ZigBee IP specification, which marries ZigBee's flavor of 802.15.4 mesh networking with version 6 of the Internet Protocol (IPv6).
NXP was formed 50 years ago as Philips Semiconductors and was spun off in 2006. (The current CEO of Royal Philips, Frans van Houten, had led the spinoff.) NXP went public in 2010, and its stock is doing pretty well. The company offers a line of surface-mount modules implementing 802.15.4 or ZigBee.
Indoor professional lighting
It looks like the Connected Lighting Alliance, though greatly expanding its scope beyond residential applications, still is biting off only a small subset of the much more general challenge of wireless connected lighting in building automation systems. The press release features a photo of what looks like a fluorescent-lit, open-plan office. The working group will "analyze market requirements for indoor professional lighting applications and identify standard development organizations to engage with."
I don't know of any standards-based wireless protocols besides ZigBee that are in contention for this market. We will be watching to see who accepts the invitation "to join the Alliance now and help shape the future of indoor professional lighting" -- especially which companies spring for the pricier regular membership.
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting