Samsung touts ZigBee-based smart lighting at LFI, launches new packaged LEDs and modules

April 24, 2013
The consumer-electronics stalwart hopes to leverage its position in smartphones and home electronics while adding ZigBee-based SSL to the mix, and also used Lightfair as a platform to launch new packaged LEDs and LED modules.

Samsung held a press conference on the eve of Lightfair International (LFI) 2013, and revealed plans to sell wireless ZigBee-based retrofit lamps with the launch of a starter kit planned for the third quarter. The company also announced new solid-state lighting (SSL) MR16 lamps, LED-based retrofit tubes for fluorescent fixtures, and new packaged LEDs and LED modules.

Samsung chose LFI as a venue to try and establish publicly what the company considers a leadership position in LEDs, modules, and lighting products. Nam-seong Cho, executive vice president and head of the LED business at Samsung Electronics, said, "We have taken the lead in product innovation." Specifically, Cho mentioned the recent announcement of the160-lm/W mid-power LM561B LEDs and S-140 LED-based retrofit tubes that are being sold in Japan delivering a two-year payback for consumers via 140-lm/W performance.

Still it was the ZigBee-based lighting that attracted the most attention at the event, and indeed lighting networks and controls are the prevalent story at LFI. Jaap Schlejen, senior vice president of LED lighting sales and marketing, revealed the plans for a starter kit that will include three wireless-enabled retrofit lamps and a ZigBee network bridge that will enable control via smartphones and other devices."

The starter kit at first sounded like a product similar to the Philips Hue, but in actuality does not include color-tuning capabilities -- neither RGB tuning or tunable white CCTs. Instead the Samsung lamps will simply support dimming and remote on and off control. Schlejen would not say what the kit would sell for but implied a much lower price point that the $200 it costs for the Hue starter kit.

Both Cho and Schlejen stressed that Samsung has an entry point into the networked home opened by products including smartphones, intelligent Internet-enabled TVs, and Internet-enabled home appliances. Schlejen said, "Samsung drives digital convergence." The company expects everything in the home to be connected ranging from kitchen appliances to lighting/

The initial smart lights will offer the equivalent light output of a 50W incandescent lamp and be rated for 25,000 hours of usage. Schlejen said the lamps will offer smooth dimming to 1%, and 75% energy savings relative to incandescent lamps.

In Samsung's booth at LFI, the company showed a mocked up living room with smart lighting, an intelligent TV, a wireless-enabled front-door lock, connected air-conditioning system, and wireless occupancy sensors. The concept was a home that could automatically adapt to the resident leaving by deactivating appliances such as the TV and air conditioner.

Samsung did make a curious choice in the ZigBee implementation in the retrofit lamp. Much of the vision expressed at LFI relies on the ZigBee Home Automation Standard that enables control of lighting and other household systems. The company did not include support for the ZigBee Light Link standard that allows a much simpler connection between things such as sensors and light bulbs. The Samsung system will require a home controller -- essentially a PC or perhaps a smartphone -- even to commission a simple lighting installation. Still Schlejen pledged plug-and-play operation.

Other lighting and LED products

The other lighting products announced by Samsung at the show includes MR16 lamps offered with a CRI of 80 or 90. The MR16 design utilizes active cooling technology. The company also announced a LED retrofit tube for the US market that Schlejen said would deliver a three-to-four-year payback.

In packaged LEDs, Samsung announced COB (chip on board) components with a CRI of 80, and said that 90-CRI products are coming soon. The family tops out at 40W and a efficacy of 129 lm/W.