Visitors lay eyes on some polarizing smart lighting reads

Dec. 4, 2020
Our most-read smart lighting content appears to share a disruptive theme, one that shakes loose some of the issues with a lighting industry struggling to find its way as a technology enabler.

I discovered something interesting while I winnowed down 2020 content to the smart lighting and Internet of Things (IoT) topic: Of the four top stories in that segment, only one of them appeared to deliver a fully positive forward-looking technology trend a contributed article from Navigant Research on the market potential of Power over Ethernet (PoE) in smart building projects. Upon closer inspection of the other three articles in the top list, I sensed a strangely inconsistent message for the lighting industry that has struggled for several years to deliver on its promise as product developer, specifier, and service provider in the smart-systems supply chain.

While the news that Signify had simplified the user experience for an acquired line of WiZ smart home lamps was welcome, it also sent up a glaring red flare that the slow adoption of its own Hue line of smart offerings in particular, and smart home lighting and systems in general, has been due to over-complexity and premium price points consumers have found painful.

News that showed up in our November top content regarding ams’ plans for Osram’s business units also soared to the second spot on this list. Why is this in the smart lighting focus? In the news story, our Mark Halper pointed out that the chief executive of company ams described Osram’s Digital business as “not strategic” to ams. Halper speculated, based on the financial reporting, that future plans point more toward applications other than IoT-connected lighting, such as mini and micro LED display technologies and an upturn in automotive demand. What we see here from this story is a business strategy of moving away from the smart SSL game and toward other potential photonics-enabled growth opportunities.

As mentioned earlier, an article forecasting the market for PoE in smart buildings landed in the third spot. Author Krystal Maxwell paints a relatively bright outlook for the wired technology. Although this was written prior to the coronavirus being declared a global pandemic, and some concerns have been expressed about the impact on C&I (commercial & industrial) lighting due to fewer occupants and buildings in use, I wouldn’t consider PoE down for the count just yet. Connectivity and intelligence could conceivably play an enormous role in realizing healthier and safer campuses and other larger commercial building environments.

Finally, the perplexing inconsistency of doing business in the smart technology era persists in the last story in our list. After branding itself a smart technology provider and specifically bolstering its smart-city platform CityIQ with some pretty decent contracts, GE Current sold the whole CityIQ bundle to Ubicquia. Now, chief editor Maury Wright provided his own thoughts and some confirmations from GE Current as to its intent with the sale, but it did strike me as a bit strange, given the strategy shifts and permutations of this GE Current entity.

Talk to us in the comments. What smart and IoT stories or companies made you look twice this year? What do you think of the potential for smart buildings and cities in the coming year?

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