Power over Ethernet Lighting Will Cause IT Resellers and Lighting Specifiers to Collaborate

Several years ago I wrote a blog post titled “Light-as-a-Service:  Why IT and Lighting Will Converge”.  I wrote it after presenting PoE+LED lighting to Cisco customers at the annual CiscoLive conference.  The last time I checked the stats on the post it had been read over 10,000 times.  Feedback provided by lighting experts showed that it struck a chord within the industry.  Several lighting system thought leaders told me that it helped them see a vision for where the industry was heading.  They also found it useful to hear a Silicon Valley and networking perspective that informed them that lighting companies   must become network and software application experts.

The post outlined the reasons that IT and Lighting industries would converge.  It’s the same reason people buy smart phones.  It’s about the apps!  The speed with which these two groups converge and collaborate is a function of the number of valuable business applications that emerge.  In many settings, migrating to a PoE infrastructure has a number of compelling use cases that force the move even without a rich suite of applications.  These include:

  1. Rapid installation time
  2. Auto device discovery
  3. Granular control
  4. Smooth dimming
  5. Secure and intuitive interfaces
  6. High quality of light
  7. Improved tenant satisfaction and performance
  8. Cost effective space reconfiguration
  9. Energy efficiency
  10. Auto diagnostics
  11. Stable DC power ensures longer product life
  12. Programmable and reconfigurable wall switches and sensors
  13. …and many more

But the bigger story emerges when one begins to think about software applications that leverage the intelligent lighting infrastructure.

For that, it’s easier to simply review part of the original post:

“It has taken nearly 130 years for Thomas Edison’s light bulb to join forces with Morse and Vail’s telegraph to create intelligent lighting.  The next few years will mark an exciting chapter in the convergence of disparate systems within commercial buildings.  Network powered and controlled lights enable building operators to use lights only when they’re needed.  Individual light control allows users to create scenes that match their personal preferences and mood.  Network powered LEDs can be added, moved, and changed like other network devices—that is to say—simply.   Network attached LEDs can be used to create pathway lighting to help guide building/hospital/school visitors to their meeting location.

Imagine a physician walking into a hospital lobby and having a lighting app that tells him/her to follow the orange light (or any color for that matter—maybe the physician has a personal light avatar).  The LEDs contain a multicolor fixture that turns orange (and might flash at a preferred rate).  Using the physician’s location (from the smart phone), nearby lights on the path to the patient also light with an orange glow.

Imagine a similar app for a grocery store.  Maybe it’s called the “slow husband helper” (I could definitely use this).  My wife could enter a shopping list on my electronic cart.  When I reach the store, the store recognizes my iPhone/smart phone app and tells me to follow the blue lights.  At each grocery item location, the light blinks and the app tells me where to look on the shelf—and provides a photo of the product package.   I shake the phone to tell the store light controller that I have the product and can move to the next item.  The app might also tell me that shoppers who purchased similar products also bought “X”.  The possibilities for cross selling are endless.  But the app would get me through the store more quickly while helping the store operator upsell and cross sell while rapidly turning parking spaces.

In a police station, network attached lights can be easily backed up with a UPS.

In a large mining operation, LED lights can be used to provide light, but they can also change color to provide coded information to miners.  Red means “get out now!”  The color is generated by a policy engine connected to a “canary” sensor.  When multiple exits exist, the lights can flash (like airport landing lights) to show the preferred and quickest way to safety.

The use cases for light-as-a-service are limitless—that’s why lighting and IT will converge.  Though many these solutions may appear unconventional—remember that all mainstream products and solutions started life as unconventional thinking.  For those IT professionals paying attention, this transition will provide them with a chance to create new user services, save money, grow skills and generally increase their value and contributions to their organizations.   This continues to be an exciting time to work in IT.”

The case for merging IT and Lighting will get stronger as new applications are developed.  But the process has begun.

The original Cisco post is here:  http://blogs.cisco.com/enterprise/light-as-a-service-why-it-and-lighting-will-converge