During the last 6 months Memoori has published 3 reports on the lighting industry in Smart Buildings covering LED Lighting, Networked Lighting Controls and Wireless Lighting Controls; all of which are now enabling the first stage of development of IoT technology in buildings. Collectively these 3 technologies have made their commercial debut within a span of less than 10 years and they will have a major impact on the future of the industry.
Just think about it, the electric lighting industry since the birth of the incandescent light bulb in the early 20th century changed very slowly and then a hundred years later we hit an inflection point, offering new business opportunities that will determine the winners and losers in the game of lighting, and the IoT giants of the future.
Our research on Wireless Lighting Controls covers this topic in extensive detail - http://memoori.com/portfolio/smart-buildings-wireless-lighting-controls-2014-to-2018/
LED Lighting operates within the domain of the traditional lighting industry through companies like Philips, Osram, GE, Zumtobel; manufacturing and delivering this new light source and fittings. Most over the last 15 years have seen the need to add value through network lighting controls but at this time, it is still a separate business. They have made overtures to enter this market on a number of occasions but without a great deal of success. LEDs change the game, as control can now be conveniently applied at the light source.
These companies have a major challenge ahead because in developing the LED Light, which may not need replacing, it's gradually diminishing demand for replacing incandescent bulbs which provides a very important regular revenue stream. They need to replace this business and the obvious choice is to provide value add features and services to their LED offerings. Managed Lighting is a service that is being investigated and Philips is now offering it. So if this takes off then it would reduce the open market for independent lighting controls companies.
Each new LED fixture can now be a node on an intelligent IP network, turning off the lights when people aren’t around or dimming them when exterior light can be harvested. But those sensors can also be used to harvest other useful data about temperature, occupancy and their surroundings that have other applications for environmental controls, security, safety and building analytics; Delivering value add services for the business enterprise.
Having struggled for the last 15 years to get all the environmental services in commercial buildings to work together we have now reached a point where connectivity can be achieved directly through IP allowing the IoT to become a reality. Lighting networks are in a strong position to take the lead here.
LED lighting controls are now being installed in many more buildings that don’t have building energy management systems and as our report shows bus-based lighting controls have taken on the responsibility for controlling HVAC services particularly in the relatively small to medium sized projects where heating and cooling has been achieved through a combination of chilled beams and natural ventilation.
This has required blinds to control solar gain and this falls into the low voltage category; being engineered and designed through the electrical contract and not the mechanical, as is the case with building energy management systems. The key difference is that for these projects the controls applications will be lighting-centric rather than HVAC-centric and that could result in the emergence of new players and new application delivery mechanisms; which will result in the lighting industry taking a bigger share of the IoT business opportunity provided they organize to take up the opportunity.
Gainspan, a spin-off of Intel, is a good example of the type of company that has designed and marketed Wi-Fi chips, modules and solutions to connect traditionally non-connected devices to smart phones and are now expanding their portfolio to offer wireless solutions to connect “Things” to the Internet. They see lighting and the Building Internet of Things (BIoT) as an application market that offers growth potential.
However if the lighting industry is to maximize the growth opportunities that are now opening up it will need to reinvent itself yet again. LED technology has been a massive gain for them but now they need to organize to put lighting at the forefront of connectivity in buildings. The strategy to achieve this will undoubtedly embrace M&A and Alliance and Strategic Partnerships.