This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Lightfair 2014: Adjustable Color

Here are a couple of threads in the fabric of adjustable lighting that weave through this year's Lightfair:

LED Engin's color-tunable engine
The LuxiTune Generation 3.0 is a 2,200-lm light engine that is selectable between dim-to-warm-style dimming, from 3,000K down to 1,600K, or alternatively changing the CCT at a constant brightness of between 2,100K and 4,300K.

In these early days of user-adjustable lighting, we will see many experimental approaches. This is one of those. I'm hard-pressed to think of an application that would need both modes of color tunability. Dim-to-warm is typically seen in hospitality settings -- restaurants, bars, perhaps hotels. Constant-brightness tuning along the blackbody curve is more likely to be seen in education, commercial and office, or healthcare environments. That said, this LED engine would be undeniably cool for a lighting geek to play with.

I got hands-on with this product at LED Engin's booth. In both dimming modes the dimming action was reasonably smooth until the bottom of te range, where it became a bit bursty. The units dimmed down to 0.5%, I was told.

One question to which I didn't get an answer: how are the two dimming modes selected? Is there a physical switch on the engine? Is control accomplished over DMX or Dali? The representative didn't know.

LuxiTune Generation 3.0 is sampling to key customers now. Volume production will ramp in the third quarter of this year.

Samsung has a Bluetooth Hue-alike
Samsung's system of 450-lm Smart Bulbs doesn't have an overall family name, as Philips Hue does. The press release refers only to "Samsung Bluetooth smart LED light bulbs." A Samsung rep in the booth said that is "Smart Bulbs" is as close to an overall name as the product family has.

The system offers "dimming and color tunability (2,700K warm white to 6,500K cool white) as well as preset scenarios for relaxing or waking up and alerts such as different lighting patterns and notifications when a phone is ringing" -- rather like Philips Hue. Just like, in fact, minus the open API and the wide range of available lamps.

Bulbs can be grouped in Samsung's free app; up to 64 can be controlled, singly or in groups. The reptold me that there is no latency in addressing lamps or groups that are "far away" on the network.

I wasn't able to find anyone conversant with software at the Samsung booth whom I could pepper with questions about the mesh network based on Bluetooth. The publicity calls it an industry first, but in fact iLumi was demonstrating such technology (which they built themselves on top of Bluetooth) two years ago.

The advantage, in theory, of using Bluetooth to control a network of lighting fixtures is that no bridge is needed -- both Philips Hue and Connected by TCP require a WiFi-to-ZigBee bridge in the mix.

Of course, the bridge offers advantages as well, such as enabling control via the Internet. I don't think we'll see an IFTTT integration announced for Samsung's system.

Without a bridge, Samsung's system is cheaper overall. The Samsung rep told me that the Smart Bulbs will go on sale in the US in the September timeframe at a retail price in the high 20s of dollars. This compares very favorably with $28 for TCP's connected bulbs (in white only) and $60 for Philips Hue. I believe we are now overdue for a price drop in the Hue line.

The rep told me that the same Samsung bulbs will be available in the fall with a base supporting ZigBee connectivity, for sale in commercial environments. Samsung won't sell a network bridge, but rather will rely on integrators to put systems together for commercial customers. Samsung is just selling smart bulbs.

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