Lights increasingly become data points in office buildings

Lights increasingly become data points in office buildings
Offices are becoming smarter. In the age of IoT, various office devices and equipment are all getting connected to the Internet. This applies to lighting too, which will function no longer as a luminary only, but also as a data collection point that passes temperature, humidity, light level, human presence information, etc. to the IT architecture.

Philips, which is an important player in the smart office lighting space, offers a solution named InterAct Office, which installs LED with sensors that detect occupancy and temperature, which trigger the HVAC system to make adjustments to achieve optimum energy use and user comfort.

“Every luminary throughout the building has sensor and control that merge with the IT network,” Philips says. “Each light point has individual IP address; when linked to map the space, each connected light provides location-based information and data on how the area around it is being used.”

Other companies have been working on similar solutions. A joint project between Bosch and Austria-based LED lighting company Zumtobel involves a freestanding floor light. Equipped with various sensors, this luminaire gauges air quality, noise levels, among others, in open-plan offices. A dashboard tells users if the air quality is good or bad so they can open a window for ventilation or adjust the heating.

“The key to offering smart solutions lies in integrating sensors into the luminaires, creating connectivity to transfer data, and using open gateways to analyze and visualize new insights,” said Martin Hartmann, a business developer at Zumtobel.

Helping to optimize office usage


A very important function that sensors provide is detecting human presence, so that the management office can more efficiently utilize the office space. The solution provided by Bosch helps users “identify office hotspots.” Take two conference rooms as an example. The sensors will help assess how often the two rooms are occupied. As such, the management can arrange to alternate room use based on the occupancy level.

Changing office use for optimal usage is essential in some cases. Iain Trent, Engineering Director at LandSecurities, a UK-based property company that is working with Zumtobel and Bosch to create a connected lighting system, said, “The challenge that we have in London is office space is expensive, and had meeting rooms sat empty with expensive audio-visual equipment sat in them, which is just not efficient.” Systems that provide information on how the office spaces is used will help users “get great efficiency out of that very very expensive space,” Trent added.

For the staff’s convenience


There are many benefits that smart lighting can offer for end-users. For starters, smart lighting has been proven to enhance worker productivity. Studies have found when the lighting can change colors or temperatures according to the circadian light, employees will feel more energized and have better productivity.

Secondly, some smart lighting solutions include app control, which allows the staff to adjust lighting immediately above their desks to their preference. In addition, they will be able to check the density of people in a particular area, thanks to the data collected by the sensors. They will be able to check which meeting room is vacant, and book the meeting room right from their app, for example.

Sensors and the accompanying indoor positioning network they provide may have applications in other commercial spaces, such as asset tracking in a factory, way-finding service in a museum and personalized advertising in a store, all the while improving space utilization, enhancing building safety and driving down energy consumption.

It is believed that more IT companies and software developers are wading into the smart lighting space, now that more and more lights are connected to the Internet while becoming individual data point. The area of potential application may also go beyond office buildings, to reach healthcare, media & entertainment and automobile industries.


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