The United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light, but considering the recent market developments and the enormous impact of connected technologies on the lighting business, we’ll remember it as the Year of Smart Lighting.

Before jumping into the new year, let’s look back at some of the most important events of the past 12 months that literally reshaped the global lighting landscape. We’ll also guide you through some innovative smart lighting systems that were deployed around the globe last year, and recommend several insightful market reports from leading business intelligence agencies.

 

January

  • CES 2015 is held in Las Vegas with virtually all major lighting companies, as well as a number of innovative startups, showing their connected lamps and controls – read more

February

  • The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announces the formation of the Bluetooth Smart Mesh Working Group. The goal is to build the architecture for Bluetooth’s standardized mesh networking support. Since mesh networking is viewed as essential for numerous applications, particularly the ones that require extended range or peer-to-peer communication, the adoption of the mesh topology is expected to open up entirely new opportunities for Bluetooth in the IoT. Smart lighting is an example of one of the most challenging applications where the outstanding features of the Bluetooth radio can really shine once the support for mesh is introduced – read more
  • Lighting professionals gather in London at the “Smart Lighting Controls Europe” conference to discuss how smart technologies can cut costs and create enormous value both for manufacturers and customers – read more
  • “Strategies in Light”, the LED and SSL industry’s largest and longest-running conference and exhibition, is held in Las Vegas. Key topics are centered around human centric lighting and smart lighting controls – read more

April

  • The ZigBee Alliance and the Thread Group announce collaboration on enabling ZigBee’s application profiles, including the ZigBee Light Link (ZLL) profile, to run over Thread networks – read more

May

  • Smart lighting steals the show at LightFair 2015 in New York. “Smart lighting is the name of the game now,” comments the global information company IHSread more
  • Google moves deeper into the Internet of Things with the announcement of Brillo, an operating system for the IoT, and a communication protocol called Weave. There is no doubt that heavyweights like Apple or Google can drive mass adoption of smart solutions like no one else, so it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for what they’re up to – read more

June

  • The first (and tiny) batch of products supporting Apple’s HomeKit arrive to the market more than one year after the company first announced its smart home platform. The first HomeKit-enabled product that hit Apple retail store shelves was Lutron’s Caséta Wireless Lighting Starter Kit which allows homeowners to control the lighting in their home – read more

July

  • The Thread Group announces the release of Thread, the new IP-based wireless networking protocol for low-power connected products in the home. One of the applications that Thread is intended for is smart lighting – read more

September

  • Six-year-old invention startup Quirky files for bankruptcy, agreeing to sell its smart-home platform Wink which supports a number of early smart products from leading lighting manufacturers – read more
  • IoT Security Foundation is formed to promote IoT security excellence – read more

October

  • GE announces a new series of smart bulbs, replacing ZigBee with Bluetooth as its wireless communication technology for connected lighting – read more
  • Google’s Brillo developer portal goes live – read more

November

  • The Bluetooth SIG shares its roadmap for 2016, announcing a 4x range and 2x speed increase, and confirming the arrival of the official Bluetooth Mesh standard – read more
  • Thread’s product certification program is launched with approx. 30 products submitted for the first round of testing; Osram joins the Thread Group’s board of directors – read more
  • Goldman Sachs downgrades Cree, citing concerns over the company’s deteriorating earnings and lowering stock valuation, and emphasising that the U.S. lighting giant hasn’t put enough focus on software solutions and smart lighting innovations – read more
  • First tests show that Li-Fi, a wireless technology for transmitting data using visible light communication, can be 100 times faster than Wi-Fi – read more
  • Europe’s biggest annual lighting event takes place in London with record numbers of both exhibitors and visitors. As expected, smart lighting is all over the place – read more

December

  • Philips enters into strategic lighting partnerships with Cisco, SAP and Bosch to strengthen its position as a supplier of smart lighting solutions across different market segments – read more

Pioneering applications

The year 2015 also saw a number of pioneering smart lighting deployments that demonstrate just how much value connected lighting can provide across different types of spaces. Take a look at some of them to see what smart lighting is capable of :

An impressive retrofit project featuring smart wireless controls implemented in a typical British office building. Check out how a 500-node smart lighting system can be quickly deployed without disrupting tenants’ everyday tasks, and how enormous are the energy savings that can be obtained that way.

A story of a Norwegian school which implemented a connected human-centric lighting system to improve learning environment and increase student health.

Learn how a Deloitte office building in Amsterdam uses connected technologies to provide a personalised lighting experience for every single employee to increase their comfort, well-being and productivity.

See how Dubai’s Atlantis Palm hotel enhances dining experiences at its new restaurant by using a programmable lighting scheme that changes with the time of day.

Street lights have gone digital, too. Check out what value-added features smart street lighting provides across different cities around the globe.


Valuable market reports

Finally, dozens of insightful IoT and smart lighting market reports from the leading research companies showed up over the past 12 months. Make sure you didn’t miss at least these few papers:

With the tremendous hype over the Internet of Things, it’s hard to imagine that expectations surrounding smart devices could be any higher. However, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, we still seem to be underestimating their potential. The authors of this exhaustive study predict that global economic benefits delivered by the IoT in 2025 might reach even up to $11.1 trillion, representing 11% of the entire world economy. Key factors in enabling such a massive impact? Interoperability and data analytics, and there is a lot of work to be done in both these areas.

Gartner claims that smart lighting has the potential to reduce energy costs by as much as 90%, and specifies five strategic phases that must be implement in order to achieve this: LEDs, sensors and controls, connectivity, analytics and, finally, intelligence.

ON World’s April 2015 consumer survey with 1,000+ U.S. consumers found that 19% want to buy a smart wireless LED light bulb within the next two years. The business intelligence agency says smart LED light bulb sales increased by 2900% in 2014 compared with 2012. By 2019, it expects annual shipments for smart wireless LED light bulbs to increase by over 4000%.

ON World says that by 2020, 37 million households worldwide will have a smart lighting system. The company points out that connected lighting provides a particularly low-risk entry point for consumers willing to try out smart home solutions, and that the number of smart lighting products employing the Bluetooth technology is growing rapidly.

Human-centric lighting, defined by some as the inclusion of both visual and biological needs of humans in the design of lighting applications, is receiving a lot of attention these days. The interesting research “Quantified benefits of human centric lighting” published by LightingEurope attempts to gauge its impact, benefits and value at a micro and macro level. Some of these findings look promising, especially considering the fact that both LEDs and smart lighting solutions are opening up entirely new opportunities in this field.

Last but not least, check out this handy brochure from the Lighting Controls Association which explains the major benefits of next-generation lighting controls. The document describes how upgrading to advanced lighting control solutions can produce massive energy and maintenance cost savings.