Timo Pakkala is a seasoned software professional and business manager with a career that spans 30 years. Timo has worked in three different industries, graphics and page layout editing software for creative professionals, mobile services and applications for the telecom industry and now wireless lighting control solutions for the lighting industry. Before founding Casambi, Timo held various software and service project and business management positions at Nokia. Timo loves turning latest technical innovations into practical and valuable solutions for the customers.
BLE and Cloud Based Smart Lighting Solution
Smart lighting is intrinsic to the smart revolution. Illumination is essential for human beings to function in contexts from work to home and leisure. Today, although smart lighting can help to save energy and improve quality of life, many possibilities remain untapped. It’s also not widely understood or deployed, partly due to the confusing number of standards and protocols put forward for the task. And while wireless networking offers freedom and flexibility for end users, product developers as well as specifiers and installers have been reluctant to commit to a technology: among candidates such as ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Classic or proprietary solutions, none has met all the needs of all stakeholders in terms of being easy to understand and install, easy to setup and use, interoperable, scalable, reliable, and future proof.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) provides a basis in which to begin overcoming these challenges. Already featured natively in popular consumer mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, BLE is not at all like the power-hungry and relatively unsecured Classic Bluetooth that emerged in the mid-90s to support ad hoc networking with pre-smart mobile phones. BLE is a versatile, low-power networking technology for the IoT age, with advanced security built in and featured for over-the-air updates thereby providing the future-proofing the industry needs. Native support in almost every new smartphone or tablet now entering the market enables users to control smart lighting directly without an obligatory gateway device in between.
Leveraging this technology, the potential for smart lighting can be realised through a combination of intelligent lighting fixtures and the imagination of app developers to continue creating new features that are easy for consumers to understand and use. To explore this potential, additional firmware over and above BLE is needed to provide support for efficient consensus-based mesh networking as well as scope for capabilities such as geo-locationing, beacon functionality, and integration of sensors to monitor anything measurable, such as illuminance, humidity, carbon dioxide, weather, counting or event logging.
This creates a platform for a new generation of mobile app that not only provides familiar controls such as turn-on/off, set dimming levels, create groups, setup schedules, adjust fade times and change colour or colour temperature, but also more advanced features such as taking sunrise and sunset into account while defining timers, creating scenes and animations graphically, configuring gesture-based controls such as tap and shake, and designing lighting by adding controls directly on a photograph or drawing. Sensor and status information can also be collected from the system and stored in the Cloud, and support for updating both firmware and system functionality over the air helps future-proof the investments made by product developers and system installers.
The presentation from Casambi describes how this technology is already being integrated into drivers, LED engines and LED bulbs, or directly into luminaires or behind switches. Leveraging BLE’s ability to stimulate widespread adoption of smart lighting, it will ultimately enable new and unimagined applications to emerge.