For some time now, the capability of light cells to distribute power and connection to IoT-based (Internet of Things) devices has been clear. Predictions and theories no longer seem like idle chatter as fully-functional LED units are now showing proof of concept and are capable of connecting IoT devices.
LED units such as these made a splash at Chicago’s LightFair International 2018, as leaders in the LED driver sectors arrived with products that look to move the conversation along in regards to an IoT/LED alliance. A unified industrial standard in a rapidly evolving IoT field will be critical to rolling out this technology.
The IoT-Ready Alliance, in fact, is a collaborative industry group that formed in 2017 with these very concerns in mind. IoT devices powered by luminaries and LED fixtures seem to be a perfect fit, both from an energy and technological perspective. To put it simply, LEDs are a low-energy consumption resource that can carry Wi-Fi connections within its output, and they can do so in a practical (and moveable) way — not to mention across multiple wavelengths. But this capability does not mean that the technology to get us there is easy.
Some of the biggest issues regarding LED-powered IoTs begin with the drivers themselves, which makes the developments at the LightFair all the more compelling. Several manufacturers attended with drivers fully capable of IoT/LED connectivity: from a dual-channel driver that can separate LED broadcasts from one housing, to an auxiliary 12V and 24V DC output capable of powering itself without a secondary power plant (a problem that has been worked around, but with added cost, for some time).
All of this is building toward what many see as an underdeveloped field: smart houses. Although the technology exists and the concept is clear, the depth to which most common homes are connected and run through IoT devices and apps is astonishingly thin. It’s an industry that will likely expand, and LEDs could be the engine for that growth.
To get there, it will be necessary to have a calibration standard strictly based in the world of IoTs. The field has lagged due to cost and technological issues, and as the IoT-Ready Alliance makes clear, a lack of concrete guidelines by which all LED-powered IoT devices can look toward. In a future where LEDs drive the connectivity of the internet, consistency in capability will be even more vital.