New connected lighting technologies bring opportunities and challenges

A Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard lighting control software.
A Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard lighting control software.

With proper design and programming, CLS allows one to mimic these changes in the indoor environment. CLS, using LED fixtures with colour tuning, can be set up and programmed to replicate these changes. This could improve the overall mood and well-being of the occupants. Occupants can also be empowered with all or partial control of the intensity and colour of the lighting to make changes that best suit their needs.

A properly set up smart home or building automation system (BAS) can make those changes on-demand by the push of a button. The Michael Best Law Firm in Washington, D.C., developed their facility with such abilities and believes it contributes to employee productivity and mood.


Temperature and lighting control based on occupancy is just the tip of the iceberg. Current technologies as well as new ones just coming to the market provide for far more sophisticated control options.

Lighting has a big part to play in the evolution of smart buildings. Luminaires are ubiquitous in the built environment. Their standard overhead location and positioning to illuminate the entire space also means they are an ideal integration point for a variety of technologies and applications.

CLS can be customized to the specific needs of a project. For example, when CLS senses occupancy after business hours, it can trigger the security system and localize the intrusion by turning on the lights in that part of the building. If employees use key FOBs for access, a BMS could use entry and exit data to trigger the occupied setting for that person’s office when they enter the building, and reset it to energy-savings level as well as ensure the lights are turned off when occupancy sensors indicate they have left for the day.

Components of a connected lighting system include sensors, switches, room controllers, and application software.
Components of a connected lighting system include sensors, switches, room controllers, and application software.

Other sensor types can monitor the building for air quality status, gas leaks, and other potential problems. This might be useful for manufacturing facilities where hazardous materials are in use.

CLS can also assist with energy monitoring, providing utilization data for the whole or parts of the building. Sensors can monitor space utilization and assist in determining the usage frequency of certain features to help the space management planning process. For example, if the data for a recreation room shows low utilization, it could be considered as an ideal candidate for adaptive reuse.

CLS fixtures can also be employed for asset monitoring, enabling the tracking of high-value equipment. If something gets removed from its normal location or from the building itself, the security system can be notified and misuse, loss, or theft prevented or resolved. If security cameras are a part of the CLS, images tracking the asset’s movement through the building—and presumably who is moving it—are possible.

In more niche uses, indoor positioning of people could be monitored through CLS by tracking their smartphone movement in the facility. The BMS could learn people’s movement patterns and accordingly adjust the building’s lighting and HVAC settings. The following is a possible scenario: when Susan enters the building, she normally heads to her office except on Saturday mornings when she goes to the warehouse first. The BMS system could avoid turning the lights on and resetting the HVAC settings for Susan’s office on Saturday mornings and instead adjust the warehouse space for her anticipated arrival there.

In the case of retail environments, an indoor positioning system (IPS) installed in CLS can pick up the customer’s shopping list and guide them to what they are looking for, or even nudge them toward certain brands or products by sending instant discount coupons to their phones based on the amount of time they are spending in a particular department.

IPS technology may sound far-fetched, but it is in use today. Typical usage involves a venue-specific app customers choose to install on their cell phones. Sensors embedded in the facility’s luminaires can track the phone’s Bluetooth beacon, and visible light communication (VLC) technology embedded in the fixture can place information in the light itself to be decoded by the phone’s camera. These all work together to provide accurate positioning information to the venue’s app on the users’ cell phones.

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