LUX talks to Dervan Alleyne, OEM Commercial Director for the UK and Ireland at Signify, about the technology that’s set to get the industry connected.
Technology should make things simpler, not more complicated. That’s the theory, if often not the practice.
But Signify – formerly Philips Lighting – believes it’s cracked it with a suite of recently-launched tech which aims to do just that. Its ambition is to get the lighting industry connected to the brave new world of wireless control, data generation and the Internet of Things.
The stand-out is Philips SR drivers, where SR stands for sensor ready. The concept is that, instead of having to individually wire power to the communication node or sensor, the SR driver powers it over the Dali line, an element that’s been standardised and ratified in the industry by the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance, a global consortium of lighting companies.
Signify expects most SR installations to be wireless, but they don’t have to be.
‘The great thing about SR is that the sensor is driven by the driver within the luminaire which eliminates the need for extra control wiring. On certain projects that isn’t suitable so you also have the option to use a bridge for wired installations. So it works with all connected applications’, says Dervan Alleyne, OEM Commercial Director for the UK and Ireland at Signify.
‘The main communication between the driver and what it’s powering – the node in this instance – is via Dali, as it’s the most used and the most recognised standard that people use’.
From a node to a node, the communication could be Dali or Bluetooth or Zigbee but the communication between node and driver is always Dali 2.0.
SR is a standard open protocol, so when other manufacturers bring out product – Lucy Zodion produces SR certified nodes, for instance – the communications to the node or sensor remains the same.
The benefits to the OEM manufacturer include a reduced cost of luminaire, because there’s no need for additional wiring to power the node. The open source nature of the standard means they’ll have a wider choice of suppliers.
‘If you’re using SR today, you’re future proofing for where the industry is heading, such as multiple sensing and the demand for data. It enables you to be ready for that wave when it comes through, and we’re already starting to see that’ says Dervan.
He cites the example of a street lighting manufacturer whose SR luminaires would be able to accommodate either Telensa or Interact City control management systems, depending on which one eventually wins the tender.
Dervan Alleyne expects the outdoor sector to be an early adopter of SR, with many of those first installations being primarily about wireless control rather than gathering data from sensors.
‘For instance, a petrol station where they want control of their lighting via an app’.
Equally he says a city management system is too sophisticated for about half of the outdoor installations that Signify gets involved with, and something basic and easy would suffice, such as an app which controls a Bluetooth node via an SR driver and gives basic readouts and data, such as asset management and allows the user to dim the lights on a lighting schedule, depending on the time of year.
While SR allows major cities to populate its street lights with sensors monitoring traffic volumes, air pollution and noise, the early applications of the tech will be as an easy way to create a wireless Dali system. For instance, retrofitting the existing drivers in an office lighting scheme with a SR one means you could have app-based control with no additional wiring. It also allows for grouping and scene setting in offices.
The sensors most likely to be connected to the ‘sensor ready’ driver are presence detectors, especially in office and high bay luminaires. Partnering companies such as CP Electronics and Gooee have already brought SR-compatible product to the market.
‘It’s a new way of doing things,’ says Dervan. ‘Now the industry needs to act quickly if it is to take a major role in shaping the IoT. Otherwise it will get left out of the conversation’.
He says that while the SR technology is starting to appear on tenders, YellowDot, the company’s location tracking technology, is being installed with a view to being switched on at a later date as partner technology is brought to market. He’s excited about the possibilities.
‘It’s a fantastic technology which really improves the customer experience in a retail environment’.
YellowDot can act like a form of GPS for indoor retail applications. Each YellowDot-enabled fixture sends a unique identifier to a shopper’s smartphone, allowing the system to accurately pinpoint the person’s location in the store.
Once pinpointed, to an accuracy of less than 30 cm, this allows shoppers and store staff to receive directions to products or to receive location-based notifications. This is exemplified by the way it can work with the PS20 from Zebra Technologies.
Again, like SR, YellowDot is an open programme for lighting-based indoor positioning, allowing flexibility in purchasing luminaires from multiple parties, while securing interoperability with various indoor positioning software.
He tells us, tantalisingly, that a well-known UK high street brand is about to unveil a YellowDot-enabled lighting installation.
‘We're looking to try and support the high street as much as we can to get people through the doors’.
Currently the focus is to work with OEMs to provide retail customers with real quality of light. Dervan says products such as Premium White, CrispWhite and Premium Colour have been really successful on the high street, especially with fashion and beauty brands where colour is so important.
With these applications it’s the colour spectrum that’s key, but with grocery it can be the light distribution, and the technology from Philips can assist retailers in cutting costs as well as driving up basket sizes.
Dervan cites the Coop supermarket chain in the UK, where an improved distribution of the light has dramatically reduced cooked meat waste in the chiller cabinets. The previous lighting, which had a pronounced hotspot on the upper shelves, contributed to the discolouration of the meats, especially ham. The new even light distribution has dramatically cut that waste.
‘I'm new to the role of commercial director for OEM in the UK,’ says Dervan, ‘and I think there's a room for us to do more.
‘That’s one of our challenges for this year as we move into a new realm for lighting, where smart lighting is starting to become more and more relevant. We really want to work with manufacturers who are keen to build their business on quality and produce quality product.
‘We want to make sure that we are aligned with the likes of the LIA, the BSI and ICEL to support the message that it's important to have quality in our market and in our industry.
‘Yes it's hard to regulate but I think that we as an industry have a responsibility to make sure that the right products are hitting the end customers’.
- Learn more about the Sensor Ready platform in a special zone with SR Partners at LuxLive 2019, taking place at ExCeL London on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free - view the full programme and register free HERE.