Interview | Connected Lighting | May 12, 2018

International and Cross-Industry Projects such as OpenAIS are Absolutely Crucial to the Success of Connected Lighting

Interview with Jens Herter, Coordinator Alliances & Funding at Tridonic.

What is the OpenAIS project?

OpenAIS stands for “Open Architectures for Intelligent Solid State Lighting Systems”. The project is funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 umbrella project and focuses on “connected lighting”. It is an innovative joint initiative that brings together leading companies in the lighting industry and major players in IoT technology – such as Tridonic. Our vision is to create a platform that will enable “smart light” to be integrated into IP-connected facility management systems in the future. The project will run until June 2018.

What is the aim of the project? Why was OpenAIS created?

With OpenAIS, we want to develop an IP-based lighting system. The aim of the project is to establish an open standard for connected lighting systems. Our focus is on office lighting. The project should be seen in the context of growing demands on artificial light in general. We no longer want to view light in buildings as a closed system. In fact, we want to integrate light into the building infrastructure so that it is no longer kept separate from heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Furthermore, we want to provide a non-proprietary system. In OpenAIS, all luminaires in the building are therefore connected directly to the Internet, thus enabling individual luminaires to be controlled from any location. Through this project, participants from a wide range of industries will be able to benefit from each other’s expertise and together shape the transformation of lighting management in the era of the “Internet of Things”. We ultimately want to ensure the European lighting industry is equipped to supply smart luminaires for the office of the future.

Who is involved in OpenAIS?

OpenAIS is a collaborative project involving an international consortium. Those involved in the project include leading companies in the lighting industry, such as the Zumtobel Group – represented by its brands Zumtobel, Thorn and Tridonic – as well as Philips and frontrunners in the field of IoT technology, such as ARM, NXP and Dynning, and research institutes such as Eindhoven University of Technology, which makes a significant contribution to the project by studying user interaction, and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), which conducts simulations to validate the functionality for large systems. Johnson Controls also represents the facility management sector and plays an important role with regard to integrating light into the facility management system. These partnerships are absolutely crucial to the success of connected lighting. By joining forces through this international, cross-industry consortium, we are able to pool our resources and look at the entire value chain for applications involving connected buildings. We see it as a very enriching cooperation for everyone involved.

What was the motivation for Tridonic’s involvement in the project?

In general, Tridonic invests a great deal in the development of new products and in internal projects. However, with such an innovative and future-oriented project as OpenAIS, we believe it is very important to bring different stakeholders together, such as academic institutions, suppliers, potential customers and even competitors. This allows us to develop new solutions and define standards together. The OpenAIS project enables us to press ahead with the development of an open standard for connected, smart lighting that is geared towards the workplace of the future. In addition, involvement in OpenAIS promotes the development of our net4more technology, a hardware and software platform that connects luminaires and enables light to become the infrastructure of the Internet of Things.

How are Tridonic and Zumtobel involved in OpenAIS? What specific role do they play?

Through the development of components and corresponding software, Tridonic has contributed significantly to the success of the project. Both Philips and Tridonic have developed the world’s first hardware and software solutions that enable direct IP-based connection to the luminaire. Zumtobel has significantly contributed to the system architecture and played a key role in the creation of the object model. In simple terms, Zumtobel has defined the language (i.e. the object model) and the architecture for communication. This has then been transformed into functional hardware and software solutions by Philips and Tridonic. In addition, luminaires from Zumtobel and Thorn, along with components from Tridonic, have together been implemented in a pilot installation, thereby ensuring that Philips luminaires could be integrated in the same setup.

How is the feasibility of OpenAIS being verified?

The first installation of OpenAIS can be seen in “De Witte Dame” (The White Lady), a historic industrial building in Eindhoven that houses the offices of GGD Brabant-Zuidoost on the fifth floor. Once a location where light bulbs were manufactured, the former Phillips building is famed for its industrial architecture. Today, it is a national industrial monument and is mainly used as an office building. With the pilot installation, we have already been able to impressively demonstrate the brand new system for connected lighting in the office environment. The pilot installation was also part of a light show during Eindhoven’s GLOW light festival in November 2017. We are certain that the pilot installation has the potential to become a commercial project.