The internet of things is the buzzword of the moment in the world of lighting. Here's Lux's guide to all the jargon you need to have a sensible conversation about the IoT.
The internet of things
The internet of things (IoT) is what happens when it's no longer just computers and phones that are connected to the internet, but all kinds of objects and devices – including lights. It is estimated that there are already 12.6 billion IoT devices out there, and by 2020 there could be 50-100 billion.
'Big data' refers to the massive volume of information – some of it structured, some of it not – that we generate all day, every day in the modern world. Due to the growth of the internet of things and connected devices, including smart lighting products, the data generated from these devices is growing exponentially. It is estimated that 90 per cent of the world's data has been generated in the last two years.
An integrated circuit (IC) is a tiny microchip containing a bunch of electronic circuits and components – transistors, resistors and the like – on a layer of silicon. An IC customised for a particular purpose (like power, sensing or communication) is called an application-specific IC (ASIC). You can even build ICs into LED light modules.
Wireless mesh networking
A wireless network in which each node can relay data and messages, and all the nodes work together to distribute data aross the whole network (as opposed to each node just talking to a central hub). An example is a network of light fittings with built-in sensors, that are able to talk to each other, to share data about temperature, light levels, occupancy and so on. Some of the benefits of mesh networking in a wireless setting are adaptability, scalability and the ability to cover large areas.
An application programming interface (API) is how software programmes and services talk to each other. APIs let third-party developers make apps that can control smart lamps made by other companies, or that can post updates to social media sites. APIs can also help connected light fittings talk to other kinds of devices and systems.
Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that involves studying partterns in data, without explicit programming instructions. As the system analyses data and recognises patterns for itself, it can use the outcomes of the analysis to improve and adjust. In lighting, machine learning could be used to analyse the use of light in an environment, and offer suggestions on ways to reduce energy use through automation.