Wireless lighting control has a bright future

ZigBee Alliance has started work on an open standard called ZigBee Light Link, which is designed for LED lighting control. Several other companies, however, are also looking to create their own standards.

01/06/2012


The ZigBee Alliance has announced that it has started development on a new open standard – “ZigBee Light Link” - which is designed for LED lighting control. This standard is designed to create an interoperable ecosystem of a variety of lighting and control products that can all communicate wirelessly in the home. It is currently being developed by lighting heavyweights such as GE, Philips, and OSRAM Sylvania.

ZigBee found its calling card with the smart meter and has already been widely used in the United States as well as in other countries. Additionally, automation systems from companies such as Control4 and Colorado vNet also use ZigBee to connect an array of wirelessly controlled devices in the home. The uptake of these systems and the ability to connect to them could be a driving factor in the adoption of ZigBee Light Link. The ZigBee Alliance has also stated that this new standard will also be interoperable with other existing ZigBee standards such as ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Input Device, ZigBee Remote Control, ZigBee 3D Sync, and ZigBee Health Care. It is, however, not clear whether this level of interoperability is available node to node, or whether it is at hub level.

Also, are two different ZigBee standards really required in the home? There is some overlap between the capabilities of ZigBee Home Automation (which is already able to do lighting control as well as control a range of other appliances in the home) and ZigBee Light Link (which only controls lighting). Is a further standard needed?

There is already competition in the industry for controlling standard lighting. Google and the Lighting Sciences Group previously demonstrated a wireless LED light in May 2011, showing it was possible to control an LED light via an Android smart phone using the Android@Home system. One of the advantages of this system is that the wireless technology was directly incorporated into the light bulb (it is unknown whether ZigBee Light Link will be implemented in the same way) It is also unclear which technology is being used by Google and Lighting Sciences as they remain tight-lipped on this subject (although an unconfirmed rumoured suggests it to be 6LoWPAN over JenNet-IP). However, no matter what it is, it will come into direct competition with this new standard from the ZigBee Alliance.

A possibly worrying factor for the ZigBee Alliance is that Google has the largest share of the smart phone market, with their Android operating system accounting for over 40% of the total. If all Android phones could control devices in the home, it certainly would put them in the driving seat, considering Google’s marketing power. From a technology stand-point, Google has kept very quiet about which technology will be used in this system and it is likely that whichever is chosen will get a head start in the market.

Another competing technology is Sigma Design’s Z-Wave standard. It is also capable of controlling light systems as well as other devices within the home. Motorola recently teamed up with Verizon to offer Motorola’s 4Home automation system. With this system it is possible to monitor and control lighting in the home, as well as things such as smart thermostats, from an internet-connected smartphone or tablet. These systems are already available to those in the US who use Verizon.

These issues, as well as a combination of others such as the effect on wired lighting solutions will all be addressed in IMS Research’s upcoming report “Connectivity Opportunities in Lighting – 2012 Edition."



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.