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Companies confident about using Ethernet to install smart lights

Companies confident about using Ethernet to install smart lights
Many companies, including Philips, Cisco and Wipro, are using Power over Ethernet (PoE) to install smart lights in office buildings. Its adoption appears to be growing continuously.
Cresa, an international commercial real estate firm that focuses on tenant advisory, announced yesterday it has started an initiative – with participants from real estate, utilities and building industry professionals – to develop methodologies for adopting Power over Ethernet (PoE) standards in new or existing buildings.
“While PoE is not new, the potential for broad and innovative applications is just starting to be addressed,” said Cresa Managing Principal James Pirot, who is heading the initiative with a background in commercial office project management.
PoE can help to reduce utility and lighting costs in targeted areas, with inherent flexibility for future moves, expansions and changes, according to Pirot.
PoE uses Ethernet cables already deployed for structured IT network and servers to deliver low voltage power to selected areas, predominantly lighting. The IoT network along with the digital information that travels on it are using the same “nodes,” which “allows for the expansion of building management systems and provides the ability to track workplace utilization,” Pirot says, adding that “Everything from lighting to HVAC, security and electrical load may be run through PoE.”
Other day-to-day tasks such as booking meeting rooms remotely and daylight harvesting – using natural sunlight instead of electric lighting to properly light a space – may be also facilitated with PoE.
Kevin Mackey, Managing Director of Security by Design/Wire Works Business Systems, concurred. “A PoE installation entails an integrated approach to determine the right technology for each individual business. Once applied, its greatest advantage may be the actual ease of use and instant access to real time information.”
Cresa is not the only company believing in PoE’s good prospect. Philips, a major player in the industry, also uses PoE to offer lighting solutions for office buildings. Wipro Lighting, which offers a wide range of LED and conventional lighting products in commercial spaces – is also betting on PoE. It has teamed up with Cisco for to develop PoE-based solutions.
Wipro Lighting says there has been growing interest for smart lighting adoption in offices and smart city projects. As such, the company has created a new portfolio with sensor and IoT solutions to meet the demand.
"Power over Ethernet solutions are gaining traction in Europe and the US. We’ve done a few pilots in India and are seeing an increase in interest," said Anuj Dhir, head of the Commercial Lighting Business at Wipro, according to The Economic Times.

Other communication protocols

Several wireless protocols are available to help transmit small packets of data among devices. Between Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc., low-power Bluetooth has been the popular protocol for communication between sensors and lights. The ubiquity of Bluetooth modules and their low costs as well as industry players’ grasp of the technology are Bluetooth’s chief advantages. Since a commercial environment may have up to thousands of interconnected devices, Bluetooth Mesh can be the preferred option.
New communications standards are emerging. Ainstein, which enables smart applications via radar-based technology, will demo at CES 2019 how its technology can be applied to enable building automation, like how Texas Instruments’ meeting rooms are automated.
60-GHz mmWave radar door sensors are installed to count the number of people in a room, to adjust lighting and HVAC accordingly to optimize comfort and functionality, while minimizing energy use and costs. Because 60-GHz is not widely used in other building applications, there is little chance of signal interference, Ainstein says.
"The 60-GHz frequency band provides the bandwidth needed for a higher level of precision and accuracy than was previously available," said Andrew Boushie, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships at Ainstein.
All in all, power over Ethernet (PoE) and Bluetooth have been two popular communication technologies to enable smart lighting in office spaces; however, new protocols are emerging, including powerline communication (PLC) and radar. There is also Li-Fi, which uses light to transmit data at high speeds. The technology is actively being developed by several organizations across the globe.
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