Signify enhances IoT compatibility of its smart lighting drivers

March 30, 2020
But its newly earned ‘D4i’ certification from the DALI folks addresses just one layer of many in the ongoing interoperability challenge facing the industry.

Signify has taken a step toward ironing out IoT lighting’s compatibility wrinkles, upgrading its outdoor luminaire driver to include a standard way of interfacing with IoT nodes and sensors that would be mounted in the luminaire either at the same time or at a later date as the driver.

Eindhoven, Holland-based Signify said that the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA) has certified the company’s outdoor Philips Xitanium Sensor Ready Xtreme LED driver as D4i compliant. Signify plans to launch an indoor D4i driver in the second quarter.

DiiA is a consortium of companies that backs the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) control technology. It launched its D4i certification program last year as a means of standardizing intra-luminaire communications between various Internet of Things (IoT) components such as sensors and drivers.

D4i marks the latest move by DiiA to foster interoperability, a push which started when the group first published the DALI-2 specification in 2014 as a move up from DALI-1.

DALI-2 includes more features than DALI-1. For example, Acuity’s eldoLED driver business just added DALI-2 prescribed white-point color temperature control. But interoperability via comprehensive testing has always been at DALI-2’s core, although the testing and certification processes have lagged.

They now seem to be picking up pace.

Signify is not the first driver maker to gain D4i certification. That honor went to Osram last December. Both Osram and Signify are believed to have contributed significantly to the development of D4i.

Other driver makers are taking other steps. For instance, Helvar recently announced that its driver is now compatible with wireless smart lighting protocols and hardware from Wirepas, Chess, and Ingy.

Interoperability on many levels has long been a challenge in the industry’s quest to turn the lighting infrastructure into a network of connected lights and sensors that improve lighting control while also gathering and analyzing data to improve operations and value of smart buildings and spaces.

Back in March 2017, Signify then called Philips Lighting (it still uses the Philips product brand) was itself certifying sensor makers as compatible with the Xitanium driver.

By joining the D4i ranks, Signify hopes to further expand the community of compatible product makers and give IoT lighting a needed shot in the arm.

D4i certification, however, is just one layer among many that need to be addressed.

For example, the sockets in which these components reside can come in different flavors, one of which is Zhaga, which the Zhaga Consortium of lighting companies promotes as a standard.

When Signify recently announced that it is outfitting Cologne, Germany with outdoor smart lighting components, it noted that the components are Zhaga compliant.

The DiiA has yet another program to certify luminaires that combine both Zhaga and D4i. DiiA launched its so-called Zhaga-D4i certification initiative in December, a month after it inaugurated the D4i program.

To use Cologne as an illustration of the layers, Signify’s central role there is to supply smart lighting components inside a variety of vendors’ luminaires, some of which are Signify’s. The city plans to deploy 85,000 smart luminaires over a span of 15 years. It started the process a year ago. The luminaires that it has already installed do not include Signify’s D4i-certified driver.

“Currently the D4i drivers in Cologne are not yet installed, as the D4i drivers were launched very recently,” a Signify spokesperson clarified for LEDs Magazine.

On the Zhaga-D4i luminaire front, this month DiiA certified Signify’s Luma Gen2 luminaire, although that product is not in action in Cologne. DiiA also this month certified the Flexia and Izylum luminaires from Brussels-based lighting vendor Schréder Group.

On yet another another level of interoperability, the TALQ Consortium is attempting to establish common interfaces that would allow different control management systems (CMS) for lighting and other operations to easily work together.

Smart lighting has additional technology battles as well, such as the competition between various wireless protocols including Bluetooth, Zigbee, Wirepas, and others. On the wireless front, Signify continues to show a preference for Zigbee for the bulk of the work, with Bluetooth handling certain one-way tasks.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).