Lightfair 2019 Recap- OEM Panel discussions: Lights, Camera, Action

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Lightfair 2019 concluded its 30th year anniversary milestone after five beautiful days at the Philadelphia Convention Center. As always, numerous new & innovative products were unveiled, including Signify’s category winner InstantFit T8 Visible Light Communication (VLC) TLED. In addition, for the LED electronics business group at Signify, something groundbreaking and exciting also happened at this year’s Lightfair.

 

For the first time, Signify hosted four separate panel sessions about indoor and outdoor connected lighting as part of its annual OEM Product Showcase. During these panel sessions, distinguished guests from business partners such as EnlightedMagnum InnovationsSBT Alliance, and Synapse Wireless candidly discussed about the latest offerings from their respective companies, shared their outlook for the indoor and outdoor connected lighting, and elaborated on the collaboration that is taking place between their companies and Signify. My main goal for organizing these panel sessions is to showcase the close collaboration that is already underway between Signify and these companies.

 

For everyone who attended these panel sessions, the consensus was that they provided unprecedented access to a group of leading experts of connected lighting in an intimate setting. In case you missed out on these panel sessions, don’t’ despair. All of them are recorded and available online. If you want to find out more what each panel session is about, please continue reading.

 

“It’s about the data”

 

Panel session 1: Indoor Connected Lighting

Cory Vanderpool, Director of Development & Strategy, Magnum Innovations

 

Magnum Energy Solutions began around 2010 with a focus in offering HVAC control solution for the hospitality and education customers. Several years later, it was acquired by a private equity firm in October of 2018 and the company name was changed to Magnum Innovations. This name change is to highlight company’s expertise in building system integration & help position the company for the growing smart building opportunities.

 

Early on Magnum Innovations recognized the benefits of Signify’s Xitanium SR LED drivers and became a strong proponent. According to Cory, the key rationale was, and continue to be, the fact that they are “good quality and have the data”. These are the two key characteristics that differentiate Xitanium SR LED driver from other standard 0-10 LED drivers on the market. Furthermore, Cory observed that in the past purchase decision was made primarily based on the return-on-investment (ROI). Today, what matters most is “what can the solution do for you, how can it integrate, how seamless is it.”

 

To hear the remainder of Cory’s panel session, and to watch the live demonstration of the tunable white fixture with Magnum Innovation’s wireless lighting control solution, please click here. (note: you need to register to the North America My Technology Portal in order to gain access)

 

“Advance Xitanium LED driver is a good choice”

 

Panel session 2: Indoor Connected Lighting

Mike Gershowitz, Vice President, Solutions Engineering, Enlighted

Paul Davis, Senior Director of Product Management, Enlighted

 

Enlighted, founded in 2009 and headquartered in Silicon Valley, is now part of Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure business unit after it was acquired in July of 2018. In the past, Enlighted was focusing primarily on the North America market by providing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for leading commercial and healthcare organizations. After the acquisition, in the words of Mike, “Enlighted has taken on a better globe perspective”.

 

A hot topic that Paul Davis addressed at the panel session was about the IoT Ready Alliance. If you recall it was two years ago at LFI 2017 when Enlighted introduced the IoT Ready Alliance. The main intent “was to bring standardization around the interface between the sensor and luminaire both electrically as well as physically.” Given the success that Zhaga Consortium has had in standardizing interfaces of components of LED luminaires, Enlighted announced the week before LFI 2019 that it has joined the Zhaga Consortium. This also means that IoT Ready Alliance will cease to exist, and Enlighted will support Zhaga’s global specifications that make it easier to integrate lighting sensor and/or controller into the LED luminaires. This new approach of using a common set of open standards is a “huge step forward” according to Paul. Mike further added that LED driver with the digital “two-wire interface”, such as Advance Xitanium SR LED drivers,  help streamlines the LED luminaire design and lower the cost for connected lighting solution.

 

If you want to watch other topics that were discussed at this panel session, such as recently announced D4i, please click here for the full recording.

 

“Imagination is the biggest piece that help people realize the values of connected lighting”

 

Panel Session 3: Outdoor Connected Lighting

Jamie Britnell, Director of Product Management, Synapse Wireless

Michael Davidson, Lighting Controls Specialist, Synapse Wireless

 

Synapse Wireless, headquarter in Huntsville (AL), is owned by McWane, Inc., a privately held, family-controlled company. Synapse Wireless specializes in lighting and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications by providing software, hardware, and networking capabilities.

 

One valuable insight shared by Jamie is the importance of having deep dialogue with the customers. These conversations are critical in establishing a clear understanding of how the customers use their facilities on a day-to-day basis. The frequent dialogues can not only change the perception that connected lighting is just on/off and dimming, but they also “help to get their imagination going on all other things they could do” with a connected lighting system.

 

Michael followed up by providing a good use case for the outdoor lighting application: the fixture-mount sensor can now collect the asset data stored in the built-in memory bank of the LED driver—available with the Xitanium outdoor SR LED drivers. This information can help utility companies to know exactly what replacement parts, or light fixture, to be used in case a mishap like the one shown in the picture happens.

To hear the rest of the panel discussion, and especially the Department of Energy’s Next Generation Lighting Systems (NGLS) Outdoor Evaluations that Synapse and Signify are collaborating on, please click here.

 

“If you lead with advance control you will sell LED”

 

Panel Session 4: System Integrator Point of View

Benjamin Buchanan, CEO, SBT Alliance

Rich Hanlon, COO, SBT Alliance

 

Smarter Building Technologies Alliance, or SBT Alliance, is a system integrator (SI) headquartered in Las Vegas. It’s actually comprised of three companies that, according to the company website, collectively “help streamline energy efficiency and advanced controls projects from end to end”. Benjamin and Rich, with their combined 45+ years of leadership experience in the lighting industry, shared their lessons learned on the challenges of deploying networked lighting control solutions.

 

For example, Benjamin proclaimed that connected lighting has created unprecedented challenges for the lighting industry. To sell an IoT-centric lighting control solution, Benjamin argued, a different sales approach and skillset are required. Furthermore, the ownership for design, commissioning, and support of the control system can be a contentious issue. Far too often, Benjamin said, “every mistake that we have seen has spurred from the design. And even when you get a great design, another mistake is underestimating the need for commissioning”. Does that sound familiar?

 

Rich reiterated a key message that resonated with what I mentioned in my 1/23 webinar with the LEDs Magazine: “You need to put the foundation in there so that your [lighting] system can grow.”  Having the digital driver such as the Xitanium SR LED driver inside the LED fixture, for instance, is like putting down the digital foundation that help you “future-proof” the LED system. Benjamin put a different spin on this concept during the panel session: “If you lead with advance control you will sell LED because they go together”.

 

If you want to know who Benjamin thinks are the new gatekeepers for the IoT-enabled lighting control solutions, please click here to watch the full recording.

 

So what is my main takeaway from these panel sessions?  It’s the realization that emergency of IoT in the lighting industry has had a disruptive effect that leads to new paradigm shift. New technologies, new market entrants, new gatekeepers, and new ways of doing business are emerging. Companies such as Enlighted, Magnum Innovations, SBT Alliance, and Synapse Wireless bring unique perspectives and solutions that not only complement, but also enhance, Signify’s indoor/outdoor connected lighting product offerings. As connected lighting becomes more mainstream, now is the perfect opportunity to lay down the digital foundation for indoor or outdoor LED lighting system.   

 

In conclusion, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to organize/host these four panel sessions. Everyone I’ve spoken with agreed that all the panelists have helped them broaden their perspective and gain a deeper understanding about connected lighting. Next year I look forward to inviting all of them back for another set of panel sessions at Lightfair.

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