Perhaps we are a little too used to either/or choices these days. We often hear cheers of Team This or Team That when it comes to technologies — Mac or PC? Android or iOS? Is anyone still bothering to distinguish between Intel or AMD when it comes to processors? Maybe my husband. And a small tribe of self-professed gaming-PC nerds on YouTube. (My two cents? Always buy the AMD processor. You’re overextending your budget anyway with the cost of premium graphics cards.)
Does the either/or choice make sense when it comes to bringing advanced lighting technologies and data communications together, though? There has been so much talk about Bluetooth, proprietary mesh approaches, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, cellular, and more; plus there is a whole line of offshoot discussion about visible light communications (VLC) such as Li-Fi versus Wi-Fi (see a recent post over on enLIGHTenment’s website, “The Lowdown on LiFi”).
I read the responses from those interviewed in the enLIGHTenment piece with great interest. Especially when asked if they thought that Li-Fi would replace Wi-Fi, or if they saw the technologies as complementary. Each unequivocally stated that they thought the technologies were complementary. In fact, Randy Reid of LumEfficient, EdisonReport, and LiFiReport, made a good argument about why having options for connectivity and data transmission were vital in cases where one signal transmission method would not be possible or optimal. Read that linked interview for more observations.
And although this article by former Strategies Unlimited analyst Shonika Vijay is about cellular connectivity for street-lighting applications, her end statement is certainly valid: “It is now more important than ever for companies to carry multiple lighting communication technologies in their smart lighting portfolios so specific project needs can be met. It might be more important to satisfy the lighting application needs over pushing a particular communication technology that may not be ideal for the project.” I don’t think it can be more clear that the way forward in connected lighting and communications will have more than one method and many opportunities for meeting the demands of users.
We’ve been a bit conservative with our time in reporting on Li-Fi for a while due to the high cost of implementation, and the rate of installation in commercial projects has been relatively slow. But we continue, as always, to monitor these topics and deliver news as we see it becoming relevant to commercial product development and potential business growth across the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) supply chain. Stay tuned for upcoming news on Li-Fi products and services.