Smart Lighting + IoT | Resources | Tech-Talks Bregenz | Controls | LpR Article | Sep 12, 2014

Tech-Talks BREGENZ - Walter Werner Werner Mgmt. Services, CEO

The transition from traditional light sources to solid-state light sources has also affected lighting controls. Nowadays we talk about smart lighting, human centric lighting and software dominated lighting concepts. Dr. Walter Werner from Werner Management Services, a highly experienced lighting controls expert, discussed the major trends in lighting controls with LED professional, as part of the Tech-Talks BREGENZ series.

LED professional: Dr. Werner, let’s start this Tech-Talk BREGENZ with a question about the meaning of Smart Lighting. How can Smart Lighting be defined?

Walter Werner: I don’t think that there’s one universal definition for Smart Lighting. Typically, there are three elements involved in this area: One is automation, the second one is manual lighting controls and Smart Lighting is third. If we look at the words “Smart Lighting”, they imply that the lighting system is intelligent and that it could help the user to establish their optimal environment. Smart Lighting does things by itself, hopefully the right things! It should include a smart layout, the right types of luminaires and the right colors to light the environment intelligently and user-friendly.
But it starts with having more than one end-user. There is the end-user that uses smart or controlled lighting to light up the environment, there is another end-user that basically looks after the energy bills and the third one (possibly the building service personnel) that looks after the maintenance issues.

LED professional: How does Solid-State Lighting influence Smart Lighting and what are the interactions between the new light-sources and controls?

Walter Werner: The majority of lighting controls vendors haven’t been doing a good job over the past 15 years. They annoy end users, electricians, and the people within the building automation services as well as those in building management services. Most of what was sold did not work the way the users expected. “Smart Lighting” is a new word brought up by the people in Marketing to cover and hide what everyone already knows: lighting controls isn’t doing a good job. The word “Smart Lighting” is, therefore, pure marketing.

LED professional: Let’s have a closer look at the interactions. How do businesses interact between Solid-State Lighting and Controls?

Walter Werner: For more than 10 years we have been hearing business consultancies telling the lighting industry that lighting controls will take off - but it just hasn’t happened.

What has happened is that the further market development of lighting controls has practically stopped. The reason for this is the construction budgets. 20 years ago lighting controls was allotted as part of the lighting budget of a new or refurbished building, but now, these extra budgets for lighting run totally into the LEDification.  LED luminaires are much more expensive than traditional lights and the construction budgets are not increasing. The only way to get more money for LED lighting is to take it away from somewhere else.  As it turns out, the money has been taken away from controls. In the past, controls were mainly sold for energy savings and partly for comfort. The energy savings argument has been taken over completely by LEDification.  However, what people don’t realize is that in office building spaces the energy bill for lighting can be cut by an additional factor of two if a sophisticated lighting controls system is installed.

LED professional: What about the interactions on technological levels?

Walter Werner: With LEDs, it is much easier to influence the light source then it was with halogens and fluorescent lights. The LED is super when you want to dim the lights effectively, but it was a bit of a surprise that LED technology had some color temperature issues associated with dimming. It’s much easier to dim LEDs than it used to be with the old technology, and the needed electronics competence to achieve nice LED-dimming is widely available.

LED professional: You talk about controls and projects for bigger buildings and environments. But there is also the idea of bringing more sophisticated controls into residential applications with more emotional issues. What are your thoughts on that?

Walter Werner: Generally, this approach isn’t new but LED technology provides much more freedom. We’ve had controls for living rooms for many years with phase-cutting dimmers. But people were unhappy with the solutions, especially if they had fluorescent lamps. So now we have LEDs coming in but the main trouble with the LEDs is refurbishment. This is especially true when incandescent lamps are replaced with LED-based ones where phase-cutting dimmers have already been installed.

Nowadays we are mainly moving towards non-manual control so there’s a market for that, but I don’t think that this is going to be a mass-market in the near future.
Yes, with LED there are many more things available, such as color-control and brightness-control to real zero, to name just two.  Residential is where I think RF systems will play a major role in the future. There are nice applications and we can forget about the humming wall-dimmers and replace them with a wireless, smartphone-controlled lighting system and still have the mains switch on the wall. These new concepts will push smart lighting for living rooms.  And we shouldn’t forget the millions of people that look for solutions like that as they like to play around with their personal environment.

LED professional: Let’s look at the other side. There are also new technologies and components available on the controls side. How did these new developments influence the luminaries and light sources?

Walter Werner: I think sophisticated control is pushing towards color luminaires or tunable white ones that wouldn’t exist without controls. If we go for light bulbs it may be a little bit different.  In the end, though, you end up with a light bulb that is controlled and it’s easy to spot the light-bulbs in different whites. In terms of components we see new systems around systems like ZigBee Light Link, BTLE, 6WloPan and many more.  I could give you 30 other names. The trouble is that the complexity of an office system is still not mastered by most of what is sold, but living rooms are well covered. If you need highly reliable advanced features we have to overcome problems with the system-installation, the integration steps, and operational issues like link availability and latency.

LED professional: You have also worked in the field of building management software integration where you researched link systems like Backnet, LON, KNX. What were the results of your research when looking for overall control solutions?

Walter Werner: We shouldn’t forget CANopen along with some 20 other systems. The trouble is that these systems work as long as they are on their own. But I don’t see a way to create a real uniform system.  The reason is “heritage”. You just can’t convince the investors to refurbish their buildings that have been operating for the last 20 years with a specific system into a new one just to have a uniform system. They will press their suppliers to maintain these old systems and to support the old methods and effects.
It’s possible that the future will bring uniform systems for new buildings but it could take up to 20 years before we have them. And even if we had one, I’m not convinced that it would work, because it might end up as a boring and insufficient monoculture. Let me put it this way: There is an old trend that will also be important in the future of controls.  It is Internetization, and Internetization also stands for diversity.  I think that all future systems will be equipped with Internet nodes and therefore what is needed is a kind of building management software layer that provides basic uniform methods for all the different systems in order to bring them to life, keep them alive and maintain them.

LED professional: Internetization would bring with it the problem of security, wouldn’t it?

Walter Werner: An Internet system can be used with or without any connection to the outside world, like intranet. Internetization is more about the methods that can be used such as TCP/IP and HTTP protocols. Security issues are not solved at all by not using Internet methods.

LED professional: Let’s look one step deeper into the system level. In the area of modules and drivers, for example, we are talking about device interfaces such as DALI. Furthermore, there are different physical ways of operation available like wired or wireless connections. How do you see these interfaces evolving?

Walter Werner: Wireless is a very good issue if you go for living-room control and especially for mobile device connections. I do see a greater importance of Power-Line Control (PLC) for professional systems in the future. If the technology step that RF took in the past, is transported to PLC we could end-up with very smart and reliable systems. There is already PLC technology available that can do the job even better than RF systems. Remember that „LAN over mains“ is commercially available with enhanced properties compared to WIFI. Also at the Light + Building this year we saw some examples of Power over Ethernet, which follows the same thoughts but still needs special infrastructure.

LED professional: The Connected Lighting Alliance (TCLA) selected ZigBee Light Link as the preferred system for use in residential applications. Now they are working on an RFI system for office applications. Do you think we’ll find a kind of standard through the TCLA activities?

Walter Werner: Let’s have a look at DALI first. There are at least 10 different enhanced DALI versions available; none of which are compatible or can satisfy new requirements. This is a result of not being able to overcome problems in the original DALI specification. So any standardization framework has to make sure that further development will not be blocked and is open enough for future developments and innovations. I think that a common interface on a module level should be achievable. ZigBee Light Link more or less does the job for residential applications for manual controls and it fits well there. For professional lighting it is different; there are some 500 installations in Spain applying this ZigBee technology into professional lighting applications such as offices. To my knowledge only two of these installations work properly. The trouble is not really the technology, but lack of knowledge, set-up and the maintenance issues have been too difficult to be handled sufficiently in professional buildings.

LED professional: So are you saying that the argument for RFI systems being flexible is contradictory to the installation set-up and also to the complexity in maintenance?

Walter Werner: There are just too many challenges and difficulties. You need perfect engineering on-site regarding antennas, positions, repeaters, layout, routing techniques and commissioning. In case of a change you would need the same person there or you should have very good system documentation but there’s no format given for this and the process does not really push it. Remember even the comparatively simple wired systems nowadays are too complicated for most of the electrical staff on site.

LED professional: A luminary manufacturer told us at the Light + Building that in the end, lighting controls will be all about software and algorithms. Do you agree with this?

Walter Werner: If we’re talking about controls this is already the case. The hardware differences are negligible and don’t make a real difference. The difference is in the features a system can offer and these are mainly based on software, algorithms and human interface design. The general-purpose hardware is getting more and more standard; just have a look at the computer industry. The key point is the handling process and solving the deployment problem. The logistics are easy compared to the deployment of maintained features, and this is the real key point for success. I do see some automatic deployment systems for the future, though, but it will be a long way.

LED professional: You mentioned the human interface as an important factor which should be considered. How has this changed when taking the new types of mobile devices we have nowadays into consideration?

Walter Werner: The human interface for smart lighting is an open issue. All the solutions in regards to mobile devices are nice but there is nothing close to a dominant design. If you test available interfaces on different persons, some or most of them will struggle with them.  This means that we don’t have a useful and generally accepted design in the area of human interface for lighting. Dominant designs are accepted concepts that are used globally in the same way. Smart lighting shows that there is a need for a dominant design of the human interface and a lot of developmental work needs to be done here.

LED professional: In your consultancy business you focus on the area of Internet of Things (IoT). Where do you see IoT applications in lighting?

Walter Werner: In the future we’ll have much more information available; more than we’ll ever be able to use, out of IoT. This could be a revolution, not an evolution in lighting. More and more things will have their sensor or interface data propagated in an open environment. So, for example, we’ll have information about the position of chairs in a room and on which chairs people are sitting. We’ll have sensors telling us where people are and use them to light up things.
The main questions will be how do we integrate the information and how do we design interactions with these things? In-door navigation will be a topic that will require additional networking capabilities for sensors as well.
The problem here again is that the technology is very advanced but it’s a question of what we’re able to use. Furthermore, I have to mention that we’re talking about lighting but in a building we also have ventilation and heating systems to name just two. All of the systems will have IoT capabilities and they will have to interact as well. So if we start looking at the details here it gets difficult.  Not so much complicated, but in its diversity really difficult.

LED professional: What about the market forecast of solid-state lighting controls in general?

Walter Werner: Heritage is the most important factor slowing the growth of SSL applications. You can’t throw away existing installations. If 25 years is the average usage of an existing lighting installation there’s no chance that SSL will reach a 50% market share within the next 10 years.  Even if the percentage of newly sold LED-based luminaires is approaching a major figure we have this limitation because we’re talking about an investment business and not a consumer business. The same thing applies to controls.

LED professional: You also have a good impression of light source technologies. What about LEDs, OLEDs or other light source technologies?

Walter Werner: This may seem like a tough statement but the LED, including LED Lasers, is the last light source we’ll see for point lighting. There’s nothing after the LED. The reason is that the LED will get close to the physical limits especially when we go for RGB LEDs in the future. So it will be the LED that lights the future as long as we’re talking about point light sources. When we look at diffused light sources this might not be true. The reason for that is that you lose energy and performance by converting a point light source to a diffused light source. The physical limits will not be reached with LEDs and diffusers in front of them. So there’s a good chance that a diffused source like the OLEDs will go beyond the efficacy and the constraints of the LEDs.

LED professional: Lately we’ve been hearing about an old technology again: Namely, lasers. For example, lasers for lighting are being used in cars. What can you tell us about this?

Walter Werner: Lasers and LEDs are pretty close because today solid-state lasers are also LEDs. It’s difficult to separate them. There might be some applications where the additional parameters of laser-based light could solve specific engineering problems. As far as I know, one presentation at the LpS 2014 will be on this topic, so I’m looking forward to hearing more about this technology.

LED professional: You personally will give a talk on the second day of the LpS 2014 in Bregenz about Human Centric Lighting (HCL) and the technology changes. Could you please define HCL as you see it?

Walter Werner: HCL means that the human is supported in the best possible way. HCL will exclude, by definition, all building management or maintenance issues as a target. HCL is related to the personal environment and the influences and interactions with lighting. This is precisely what torch lights did. We have it under our true personal control! Installed lighting systems are not doing that at all, so we have a gap to bridge. HCL is more about personal controlled abilities and also much more about the dynamics that people can use. HCL makes the difference between a boring and a stimulating atmosphere, where humans define their own set-up and dynamics.
My talk in Bregenz on October 1st will be about the technology aspects of HCL and the environments needed.

LED professional: Thank you very much for this very interesting talk here in Bregenz!