As the only wireless standard that provides a fully decentralized architecture and is completely free from a single point of failure, Bluetooth® mesh has recurrently proven to be the most-efficient, easy-to-use wireless technology for professional lighting applications and the only truly scalable wireless standard. According to the 2020 Bluetooth Market Update, since the technology was released in 2017, the number of qualified products related to Bluetooth mesh has been growing rapidly, doubling every six months. As of December 2019, there are close to 500 Bluetooth mesh certified products, 90% of which are lighting focused end products. Commercial lighting control systems are relying on Bluetooth mesh networking to create large-scale device networks that can act as the building’s central system. Used across retail, tourism, and enterprise to provide advanced lighting control, these systems also establish a platform that enables advanced building services, including wayfinding and asset tracking.

Thanks to Bluetooth® technology, the HubSense® lighting control system is easier to implement and scale up, whether in a new project or a retrofit.

Today, commercial lighting control systems based on Bluetooth mesh technology have received strong support from many leading companies. OSRAM, as a lighting company, has developed a lighting control system based on Bluetooth mesh that provides professional solutions for a diverse range of light scenarios.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Jacob Ye, director of product marketing for OSRAM Digital Lighting Systems, Asia Pacific, and gained a more comprehensive understanding of the application scenarios of OSRAM’s HubSense® commercial lighting control system and its development directions.

Q&A with Jacob Ye

Can you share more about a project you are currently working on with Bluetooth mesh technology?

OSRAM’s HubSense® lighting control system is a wireless lighting control system that offers a new commissioning experience. For the first time, we are utilizing the standardized and devices-network-enabled Bluetooth® mesh technology on lighting control products. This is also a practice to facilitate the adoption of Bluetooth mesh in commercial lighting control systems. Based on Bluetooth mesh technology, the HubSense® lighting control system is giving a free spirit to smart lighting.

First, this lighting control system offers a flexible and customizable software interface. With the HubSense® software, developers can easily create an energy-efficient and comfortable light environment and digitally manage all the lighting scenes. Benefiting from the Bluetooth wireless communication between lighting devices, the system is free from cabling and allows greater scalability and flexibility in project planning and device layout.

How long has this solution been in place?

It was first introduced in the European market and successfully completed several project upgrades. We have also received useful feedback on the application from property owners and builders so that it can be continually improved. In China, it was officially released in May 2020. Thanks to Bluetooth® technology, the HubSense® lighting control system is easier to implement and scale up, whether in a new project or a retrofit.

At the beginning of a project, engineers do not need to spend a lot of time understanding the product and its wiring method, nor do the installers need to have lighting control engineering expertise to make successful deployments. It significantly reduces the complexity of wiring in the ceilings and walls during the installation, as well as reduces wire usage and time. During installation and commissioning, the impact that the project makes to the daily business operation can also be minimized. As a result, the HubSense® system can minimize project lead time and unnecessary business disruptions and losses. This makes it particularly suitable for the rapid implementation of upgrades to existing lighting installations and new projects.

What kind of market needs do you want to address, and in which areas are the main applications expected?

This product can be used in a variety of fields. In commercial applications, for example, lighting fixtures are typically used for three to five years before owners start looking for new solutions. Nowadays, more and more owners are no longer satisfied with simply replacing energy-saving lamps with LED lights but are beginning to embrace the concept of smart lighting. By introducing an intelligent lighting control system, the light will appear at the right place and time with the right amount of illumination, providing a pleasant feeling for everyone in the entire lighting environment. It also reduces electricity consumption where light is not needed, resulting in noticeable energy savings for customers. This is what many owners are currently considering and willing to accept.

How does Bluetooth technology help OSRAM address existing challenges in commercial lighting?

Bluetooth® technology gives HubSense® a greater scale of use, greater flexibility, and bigger network node quantities. The scalability of Bluetooth mesh allows the system to be expanded to thousands of nodes, while the range of applications can be extended from a single light to the entire room, even covering an entire floor or multiple floors. The whole system is networked as a Bluetooth mesh network without the hassle of wiring nor the limitation of a single point of failure. And no gateway is required.

Thanks to Bluetooth technology, the HubSense® lighting control system makes smart lighting easier than ever before. During the setup process, the Bluetooth signal filtering function from the app allows the lights to be quickly located and adjusted, increasing efficiency and reducing human effort.

Meanwhile, Bluetooth technology also ensures network security and interoperability between devices, eliminating future compatibility issues.

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Why have you chosen to use Bluetooth technology?

Bluetooth® technology has developed rapidly in recent years. Compared to other wireless communication protocols, it offers the advantages of low power consumption, ease of networking, a wide range of applications, and a convenient interface to mobile devices. Not only has it become the obvious choice for the current Internet of Things, but it has also enabled the possibility to explore the future of wireless Internet of Everything. That’s why OSRAM’s HubSense® lighting control system uses Bluetooth technology as its fundamental wireless communication protocol.

Low power consumption and support for wearable devices are key features of Bluetooth technology that allow wireless panels to operate even without batteries. At the same time, Bluetooth mesh networking technology enables many-to-many (m:m) device communication and is capable of self-healing, which keeps the system running independent of a single point of failure. The indoor positioning feature introduced in recent versions of the Bluetooth specification has laid the foundation of a future-proof lighting system for value added services based on a digital ceiling.

How is Bluetooth technology going to help in the connected lighting industry?

At present, Bluetooth® technology has been widely used in smart home applications. In commercial use, Bluetooth mesh networking will support large-scale installations, requiring less wiring, offering greater deployment flexibility, and providing an enhanced, human-centric lighting experience. 

Light fixtures are one of the most popular infrastructures in a building. The latest version of the Bluetooth specification now has indoor positioning technology built in, so with Bluetooth based lighting control systems, you can further discover the value of new applications like indoor navigation and asset management. In the future, property owners and builders can use Bluetooth enabled lighting devices as digital ceilings and further unlock new applications and services in the digital IoT era.

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