We’re about to kick off a new series of blogposts on wireless communication in commercial smart lighting environment. The last time we dealt with the leading low-power communication standards for the IoT, we reviewed them one by one, thoroughly analyzing their major strengths and weaknesses. The “Wireless protocols showdown” series ended up getting some great reviews, and we still keep receiving feedback on how helpful and valuable these resources have been for companies exploring the exciting opportunities awaiting in the broad IoT segment. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to download our e-book “A Tale of Five Protocols: The ultimate guide to the IoT wireless communication landscape” which merges all of the individual episodes into one handy PDF document.

With the new series, we want to go one step further, focusing exclusively on commercial smart lighting applications. We’ll go through the most significant characteristics of wireless communication standards, explaining what they really mean in the context of smart lighting controls. We’ll look at some of the major challenges awaiting in the commercial lighting environment, analyzing whether the existing protocols can successfully address each of them, and revealing how we tackled these challenges when developing our end-to-end smart lighting platform for commercial applications.

Between network topology, applied routing scheme, data transfer rate, effective range, multicast/unicast, duty cycle length, spectral efficiency, packet collision prevention mechanisms,  and many others, the list of core network communication features characterizing wireless connectivity technologies is long and might be somewhat confusing. What we want to do is describe how they affect the actual performance of a smart lighting network under the most difficult circumstances, i.e. in commercial spaces.

Why is this segment particularly challenging? Because professional applications require professional solutions. The ones that are 100% reliable, flawless and secure. Over the last several years, this has been the major issue with smart lighting systems. Connected solutions based on various wireless communication technologies have been fairly successful in the residential segment because of how relatively uncomplicated this environment is. It certainly does have its snakes and ladders, but the volume of data exchanged over residential smart lighting networks is incomparably lower than in the case of commercial systems. Additionally, home environment is way more forgiving. Considering how innovative smart lighting solutions are, users can accept certain UX-related flaws or shortcomings, just the way they can live through occasional smartphone crashes or blue screens on their PCs. But a lighting professional won’t decide to furnish an office building with a complex smart lighting system unless such a system is perfectly dependable. Commercial smart lighting solutions can deliver enormous value, but this cannot be done at the expense of user experience. Connected technologies for lighting are trying to change some deeply-rooted human habits, and they won’t succeed unless this process is utterly smooth and painless.

But the overall performance and value of smart lighting systems depends on much more factors than just those related to wireless networking. Issues like power consumption, complexity of the onboarding process, interoperability or security are equally crucial for successful implementations, and we’ll also be covering them as part of our series, while not forgetting about all that spicy tech such as asset tracking or beaconing via the lighting infrastructure. Based on our vast experience in wireless technologies for lighting applications, we will share our take on what matters and what makes a difference as far as wireless communication in commercial lighting environment is concerned. We’re kicking off next week so stay tuned.