the connected lighting alliance

A group of lighting companies recently formed a new non-profit open industry group, called The Connected Lighting Alliance, that aims to standardize and promote wireless lighting control communications.  The inital members include GE, Lutron, Philips, OSRAM, Pansonic, Toshiba, etc.  Their initial focus is the residential/consumer space.  So far, they’ve settled on Zigbee Light Link as the primary standard.

I urge manufacturers and specifiers alike to embrace these nascent standards.  

Kudos to the members who are trying to bring some sanity to the lighting industry.  At the recent Strategies in Light in Munich, I concluded my presentation by stating that currently, too many lighting companies are trying to build proprietary platforms on the backs of open technology standards.  This is completely “ass-backwards”:  Lighting manufacturers should be developing proprietary technologies that leverage the scale and volume potential of open platforms/standards.  Otherwise, the industry is doomed to having every manufacturer simply duplicating “systems” offerings in a race to commodity hell.  If the standards exist to allow multiple companies to create a single system, then each manufacturer can specialize and innovate in certain component categories, which will enrich the entire industry.

The Alliance’s vision statement describes their goals and tactics:

Implementing wireless lighting control requires technologies that are new to consumers. The lighting industry needs a unified approach on the type of wireless connectivity which they implement. The lack of a unified approach might lead to incompatible products, market confusion, slower market adoption and limits the energy savings potential. Today, several other industries are already driving market adoption of wireless-controlled connected devices; the use of smart meters is increasing and industry analysts are predicting the rise of ‘the internet of things’ and interconnected device control via the internet. These devices will implement wireless connectivity technologies, and when lighting solutions become part of these connected systems they will have to be compatible with these wireless connectivity technologies.

In order to handle these issues, The Connected Lighting Alliance aims to promote the global adoption and growth of wireless lighting solutions by supporting open standards. Open standards are beneficial for consumers because they enable interoperable wireless lighting products and facilitate adoption of wireless lighting systems. The Connected Lighting Alliance encourages the development of a robust wireless lighting control environment, including component suppliers, solution providers, standards development bodies, and compliance testers. By doing this, the alliance strives to:

–    Align the lighting industry on a unified approach towards wireless connectivity;
–    Create a low risk choice for customers;
–    Ensure interoperability;
–    Enable a stable shared platform that triggers industry growth;
–    Focus the investments of suppliers and increase value chain support;
–    Take cost out of the system.

The Connected Lighting Alliance will do this by enabling discussions among interested parties that address wireless lighting control technology issues and interoperability requirements, providing appropriate marketing tools that inform industry partners and end users about wireless lighting controls, and facilitating interoperability events that demonstrate such lighting systems. In addition, the alliance will engage with regulators to facilitate their support in the development of and market access for wireless controlled lighting solutions. Furthermore it will engage with standards development organizations and support the development of wireless lighting control standards. The Connected Lighting Alliance aims to provide the lighting industry with a recognized united voice to stakeholders in other industries such as building- and energy management, governmental regulatory bodies, and quality label organizations. The alliance will initially focus on the residential sector, and extend its scope to other markets over time.
The Connected Lighting Alliance is a non-profit initiative, founded by leading companies in the lighting industry and open to parties that subscribe to the objectives of the alliance and can make a meaningful contribution. The companies supporting The Connected Lighting Alliance are located all over the world, allowing the alliance to operate and have an impact on a global scale.