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TECHNOLOGY / LIGHT + BUILDING

Our lighting technology expert, Dr Geoff Archenhold, finds true innovation hard to come by at this year’s show despite a wealth of newly launched networked lighting solutions.

SMART LIGHTING? Light + Building (or perhaps Frankfurt) has started to build up a jinxed reputation after the previous volcanic disruption and this year saw the untimely strike of Lufthansa causing travel chaos to the world’s largest lighting fair. Despite the travel issues a record 210,000 visitors made their way around the event. However it took me a good four days to finally track down interesting lighting innovation as the majority of products on show were in essence “me too” products. The lack of stand-out innovation was rather disappointing considering what is happening elsewhere in the technology world and I believe the lighting industry really needs to invest further in developing innovative ideas based around the digital technologies offered by LEDs and OLEDs. Despite my pessimistic tone, seams of innovation gold could be found, but one had to look hard. If you missed attending Light + Building, this issue’s article should help understand the general trends including: • LED lamps are everywhere and are being subsidised somehow; • Lighting is becoming connected - LED lamps are first to adopt networking; • LEDs are getting boringly more efficient (>200 lm/W at package level); • OLEDs are rapidly becoming an accepted lighting technology; • Lighting hasn’t grasped innovation so there are great opportunities for new players to enter the market. CONNECTED LIGHT The first major trend was the large proportion of top tier manufacturers such as Philips, Samsung, LG, Osram etc all launching integrated lighting control solutions within fixtures or lamps. Of course, this is more evolution than revolution as many of you will have read my previous articles on controls (and more interestingly security) of connected lighting systems. Obviously, industry leaders have woken up to the fact that by adding a few more electronic components to a lighting fixture it is possible to add full lighting control and connect fixtures directly to mobile devices. Thus, it’s possible for manufacturers to

concurrently reduce cost of ownership to end users whilst providing increased flexibility, functionality and appeal by deploying integrated controls. One must start to feel a little sadness as the fixture manufacturers’ gain will no doubt mean, over the next decade, someone will inevitably lose out and I believe one will start to see established control manufacturing based businesses decline as controls become further integrated into LED and OLED fixtures. However, it is clear that the industry is at the nexus point for integrated controls and I will now discuss a selection of the best implementations. XICATO Xicato, well-known amongst the lighting design community, as proponents of Quality of Light modules launched their integrated control LED module called XIM (Xicato Intelligent Module). The XIM unit integrates communications, controls, sensors, software and a light source into one compact light engine. Xicato claims that by bringing the critical electronics together makes the system more reliable, easier to integrate and provides a foundation for exploring new business models based on lighting. Speaking with the senior team at Xicato they believe the XIM module will solve a great deal of the anxiety that fixture manufacturers have had over the years with sub-standard LED drivers, dimming issues and controller complexities and I believe that these issues have certainly caused a great deal of frustration for everyone. Integrating the control system, sensors and a DC to DC driver into the light source certainly has many advantages and two notable ones are increased flexibility and choice of constant voltage ballasts. The modules on show offered integrated DALI communications and the ability to measure the LED voltage and current in real time. The module has also been designed to include the possibility of a circular antenna for wireless sensing and communications. Thermal management has been taken care of with the new chip-on-board LED engine which is bonded to the main metal inner core of the module and the electronics

boards are mounted around, rather than connected to, the core to improve lifetime. Overall, I was very impressed with the concept presented by Xicato but a few issues will need to be addressed to make the industry happy including: • What is the price point (as this was not available at the show)? • How resilient are the modules in practice? • How will on-board software be updated (because DALI is a control protocol standard not practiced correctly and so the module may operate correctly with one controller but not with another)? An example of where the Xicato XIM module could be implemented was shown on the Projection Lighting stand that integrated the XIM module with Lumentalk’s control system that delivered control information to each individual luminaire by superimposing control data onto the AC mains. The Power Line Control alphaLED fixtures eliminates the need to install control wires necessary for DALI or 1-10V control. Such costs of retrofitting control cable alone deter many retrofit lighting applications from being modified to utilise the advantages of modern control systems especially as there are those who are nervous about the robustness and security of Wireless RF as a control method. AURORA The AONE control module provides individually controllable luminaires and is designed to be integrated with a wide range of third-party lighting control and smart home systems. The module provides in-line, two-way communication directly to each light source, received over wireless protocols and PLC (Power Line Communication) from the module to Aurora’s hybrid IC technology which is found inside the latest range of Aurora luminaires. Aurora seem to have cottoned on to the fact that proprietary protocols are not the way to go and their goal is to create interoperable luminaires that are not constrained to closed systems where consumers are forced to use product X with control Y. Obviously, by choosing Zigbee there are

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mondo*arc Jun/Jul 2014 - Issue 79  

mondo*arc is the leading international magazine in architectural lighting design. Targeted specifically at the lighting specification market...

mondo*arc Jun/Jul 2014 - Issue 79  

mondo*arc is the leading international magazine in architectural lighting design. Targeted specifically at the lighting specification market...

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