Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Cisco in collaboration for power over Ethernet lighting scheme

Steve Rogerson
September 30, 2015
One of Europe’s first true power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting installations will be unveiled in Glasgow early next month following a collaboration between Cisco, the University of Strathclyde and UK company AmBX.
The public demonstration aims to show how smart connected lighting can deliver massive operational and installation cost savings, including up to 75 per cent energy savings in commercial and public installations switching to LED and how lighting in offices and public buildings can be improved for better human wellbeing and performance under artificial light.
AmBX, which has developed software that delivers lighting control without the need for costly programming and complex technical interfaces, and Cisco have been working on the project at the University of Strathclyde’s Technical Innovation Centre for three years. An area in the centre has been given over to this new generation of lighting technology. Smart connected lighting control will mean that lighting systems could become quicker and easier to install, and richer in configuration.
The technology works by controlling the lighting in a single space or multiple spaces based around end-user needs: environmental factors such as levels of daylight, time of day, temperature, whether the space is in use or not and any other measureable parameter. The system software is then able to take account of all these factors and produce, in real time, the best implementation possible of the desired outcome using the light fittings that are available. In effect, the software produces the virtual implementation of the desired outcome and then projects the best representation possible of that in the real world using the lighting available.
“Complex programming has long been the Achilles heel of lighting control,” said Neil Macdonald, COO at AmBX. “The AmBX system supports an extremely wide range of ways to interact with lighting making it easy to manage both simple and sophisticated lighting experiences. Controlling lighting using power over Ethernet lights in this way will enable building owners and users to use richer, bio-adaptive lighting in new ways to create healthier, more productive workspaces and environments. This will lead to better human-centric lighting at desks, in meeting rooms and public spaces, in terms of intensity and colour changes.”
The impact of lighting on human performance and wellbeing is becoming widely understood and these systems will be able to deliver more appropriate lighting. Bio-adaptive lighting provides artificial light controlled in such a way as to match the needs of human biological cycles, or circadian rhythms – the physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness – in an effective and appropriate way. It supports improved health and wellbeing and aspects of human behaviour that benefit from varied and changeable lighting. Technology such as this can also be combined with daylight harvesting systems.
Although transferable to other sectors and services, development of the technology has been primarily concentrated on the commercial lighting market. It has been developed into control systems that address three key sectors of the global lighting market: connected lighting (lighting connected on Ethernet based networks); commercial lighting (lighting projects, installations and systems); and bio-adaptive lighting (human-centric lighting experience)
The software controls the lighting experience using the lighting devices available and works with a wide range of lighting control protocols to increase compatibility. Different types of light and different lighting control standards can be harmonised to deliver the desired experience via AmBX Light-Scenes. Because it is software based, the outcomes – dynamic or static Light-Scenes – it produces are scalable. Similar light scenes can be applied to a few lights, tens of lights or even hundreds or thousands of lights. This ability to scale is fundamental to saving commissioning time.