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Philips: Wireless lighting market lit up by open standards
By Gary Tang 2014-07-22
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Philips is arguably ahead of the game in the wireless lighting race into consumers’ homes. Its Hue line of smart bulbs introduced consumers to the limitless possibilities of lighting in conjunction with home automation—lights can be switched on/off, dimmed, or set to any color, at any time of the day, or from any location. It product line is constant expanding, now including multiple types of bulbs and is available in more than 30 countries around the world.

Su cited an ON World report, saying global shipments of wireless chipsets for lighting controls 2012–2017 are forecasted to grow from 5.5 million in 2012 to 44 million in 2017. Global wireless lighting revenues are expected to grow to $2.4 billion in 2017, with 79 percent of the revenues generated in North America and Europe.

Consumer demand is leading the shift towards wireless connectivity. In fact, the residential wireless lighting connectivity market is growing faster than professional market, according to ON World. “Retail sales of several smart wireless lighting products such as RF enabled LED light bulbs increased by more than 200 percent over the past 12 months and
hundreds of wireless lighting control products are currently for sale through retail and online channels.”

Standards and technology that can handle whole-house lighting systems are now available, affordable and mature, as are innovations like smart LED drivers, RF-enabled light bulbs and cloud services. Dozens of wireless lighting control systems have been launched, and multiple new wireless lighting industry groups are emerging.

There is, however, a problem. While the industry is reacting to consumer demand for wireless lighting systems, market fragmentation is causing consumer dissatisfaction. When Philips set out to create Hue, it wanted to offer users a modernized lighting solution that promised a fresh perspective on lighting. To do this, it required easy installation, low cost and low energy consumption. The system needed to cover all rooms in a home. It needed to be robust and reliable, and able to function even without an Internet connection. Finally, it should be based on an open standard, allowing any manufacturer to join and enrich the ecosystem and allow multiple suppliers to offer solutions.

Philips evaluated multiple standards on the market, including 6LowPan, Bluetooth Smart, WiFi, WiFi LP, ZigBee and Z-Wave. ZigBee Light Link emerged as the optimal choice for Philips requirements, since the open, global standard offered low power consumption, mesh networks and energy harvesting. It also allowed multiple suppliers to complete and
complement each other, while the certification process and logo eliminates consumer confusion.

According to Su, a common open standard enhances market adoption, drives cost down through economy of scale, ultimately resulting in the realization of mass-market solutions that become increasingly affordable for consumers.


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