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.

2014-09-12

Connected Lighting Is Blossoming

The fast-moving field of connected lighting got some new entrants this week.

Smart lighting continues to pace the development of an Internet of Things (IoT), as we have been discussing for some time -- see "Related posts" below. Here are a few developments in this area that have been announced in the last few days.

Responsive lighting by Stack
This startup thinks it has the next big idea in connected lighting -- its light bulbs are autonomous. The bulbs' sensors know how bright a room is, how many people are in attendance, and what time of day it is, and they adjust themselves for all of these conditions. They not only dim and brighten as required, but the light's color temperature also changes over the course of a day. (It's all white light -- no millions of colors as offered by Philips Hue.)

The first bulb, planned for release in the first quarter of 2015, is a BR30 dubbed Alba. It (and follow-on formats on the roadmap) will have ZigBee, Bluetooth, and iBeacon hardware, and sensors for occupancy and ambient light.

The bulbs are initialized via an app, and the first question to answer is whether the environment is residential or commercial. Pre-defined time-of-day lighting profiles will be offered for the two settings. Eventually (perhaps not at first release) it will be possible to specify more granular detail in the bulbs' behavior.

The first target for Stack is the residential market. A two-pack of Alba bulbs and a ZigBee hub will cost $150. That's $50 less than Hue, but the bulbs will be individually priced at the same $60 point as Hue bulbs.

It is in a commercial setting that the iBeacon in every bulb will come into its own, allowing for tracking of customer foot traffic and motion throughout a store, for instance. Stack will offer analytic software to make sense of such data.

The company argues that at the $60-per-bulb price point, its responsive lighting will be more than competitive with large-scale lighting control systems of the sort offered by Philips, Cree, Daintree, and others. And Stack's autonomous bulbs can be installed incrementally, as funds allow.

WigWag's smart color LED light bulbs
This Texas startup is the first in the US market to offer head-to-head competition with Philips Hue at a significantly lower price -- $25 per bulb. They are taking pre-orders now for delivery in October of Filament by WigWag. A four-pack of bulbs and a ZigBee controller will cost the same $200 that Philips asks for a two-bulb starter kit.

Refreshingly, the company seems to be sufficiently well-funded that it can promise delivery without mounting a Kickstarter campaign.

WigWag claims that their controller, the WigWag Relay, will be able to interoperate with "Belkin WeMo devices, Sonos, Nest, Philips Hue, LIFX, and INSTEON bulbs." To pull this off WigWag has defined its own programming language, DeviceJS, based on the ubiquitous Javascript, and made it freely available as open source.

This is how WigWag's CEO describes the company's vision:

WigWag opens the Internet of Things for consumers, developers and hobbyists to grow their collection of smart devices and optimize their home or office with all things working together. If a user says "all lights off," all the lights, regardless of brand or protocol, simply go off.

Osram and Belkin work together on the IoT
Belkin's WeMo architecture for IoT devices was making good headway last January, when Belkin announced its connected lighting. Some of us wondered how many would want to buy light bulbs from what started out as a router and networking company.

The diametrical opposite question might have been asked about Osram's Lightify smart-home solution, announced in the spring at the Light + Building show. Shall we trust a light bulb maker with our automation?

The two companies are now working together. Osram will make Lightify compatible with Belkin's more widespread (and robust) WeMo. Belkin, for its part, is stressing what wasn't so clear last winter, that the light bulbs it sells under the ULTRA iQ name are in fact of Osram Sylvania's manufacture.

Related posts:

— Keith Dawson Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page, Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting