Welcome to another edition of Silvair’s IoT and smart lighting news roundup. This time we have some massive news that we believe will shape the smart building automation segment over the coming years. Let’s see what the future holds.


Bluetooth Technology to gain longer range, faster speed, and mesh networking in 2016

Last week, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) shared its roadmap for 2016, and boy does it look exciting! Bluetooth Smart’s data rate of 1 Mbit/s was already impressive compared to other leading low-power wireless communication technologies, but now the protocol promises to go warp speed with its throughput to be increased to 2 Mbit/s next year. A quick reminder: Z-Wave’s maximum data rate is a mere 100 kbit/s, while 802.15.4 networks (ZigBee, Thread) are capable of transmitting not more than 250 kbit of data per second. Higher data rate means better responsiveness, lower latency and longer battery life, all of which are crucial for many applications, including smart lighting controls. Furthermore, the range of the Bluetooth Smart radio is to be increased by a factor of four, which will often be sufficient to provide full-home coverage. If that’s not enough, there is the official Bluetooth Mesh standard coming in 2016. As important as the remaining enhancements are, this improvement alone completely changes the position of Bluetooth in the building automation environment and the broader IoT market. It was already announced by the SIG earlier this year so the upcoming arrival of the mesh networking capability is not a surprise. Yet, it is good to hear that the SIG is on track with its work on this last missing piece in Bluetooth’s IoT puzzle.


Thread Group launches product certification; Osram joins the BoD

Also last week, the Thread Group announced the launch of its product certification program, with approximately 30 devices submitted for the first round of testing. In fact, the announcement was made on the very same day when the SIG’s press release came out, and this does not seem like a coincidence to us. Some believe that the battle for dominance in smart home and connected building automation will be fought between these two technologies. Time will tell whether these predictions will turn out to be accurate, but chances certainly are pretty high. Thread is running hot at the moment – it’s new, well-thought-out, backed by a number of technology giants and leading chip manufacturers, and it offers a number of important improvements over ZigBee which sits on top of the same 802.15.4 physical infrastructure. Bluetooth owns the best radio but has so far lacked a standardized mesh networking support which prevented it from being considered as a complete solution for connected spaces. Next year, the first batch of Thread products will show up on the market, while Bluetooth will gain some real superpowers, so a confrontation seems inevitable.

The Thread Group has also announced that the leading lighting manufacturer Osram has joined Thread’s board of directors. This makes it pretty obvious that the next line of Osram smart bulbs will run on Thread. So far, the company’s Lightify products have employed ZigBee, and the switch from ZigBee to Thread is something that we expect to see happening pretty often in the smart home market next year (check out our blogpost on Thread to learn why). Last time, we wrote about GE replacing ZigBee with Bluetooth in its new line of smart bulbs, and these recent moves by lighting market giants perfectly show which communication protocols are taking over the reins. It’s been a great decade for solutions like Z-Wave or ZigBee, but as the IoT continues to grow, our needs are becoming so much bigger.


IoT Security Foundation formed to promote IoT security excellence

In case you missed it, the IoT Security Foundation was formed several weeks ago as a response to various fears and concerns regarding, you guessed it, the security of IoT systems. The goal of this collaborative initiative is to “promote IoT security excellence”. There is certainly a lot to do in this field, both when it comes to consumer awareness and developers’ practices, and there is no question that fear of insufficient security may seriously hinder the widespread adoption of connected solutions. The organization has the backing of numerous leading technology companies, just to mention Intel, Freescale, Broadcom, Vodafone or Siemens. The IoT Security Foundation’s inaugural conference is scheduled to take place in London on December 1, so soon we’ll be able to learn what exactly it plans to do.


Europe’s biggest annual lighting event taking place in London right now

Today is the last day of LuxLive, Europe’s biggest annual lighting event. This year’s edition is bigger than ever, and – as expected – the IoT is all over the place. A digital revolution in lighting is a real thing, and it is happening right in front of our eyes. The first reports from the event are now showing up in the web so make sure not to miss the latest trends in the lighting industry.


Goldman is selling Cree

In our white paper Introduction to Smart Lighting we emphasized that connected technologies would reshuffle the lighting market, “forcing all serious market participants to join the revolution or be left on the sidelines.” Here’s a real-life story about those left on the sidelines: Goldman Sachs has just downgraded its rating on Cree to “sell”, citing concerns over the company’s deteriorating earnings and lowering stock valuation. Goldman analyst makes it clear that the U.S lighting giant hasn’t put enough focus on software solutions and smart lighting innovations. Again, this shows just how serious are the changes that the lighting market is going through right now. We’ve all heard all kinds of tech innovators and mad scientists talking about the lighting revolution, but when Goldman Sachs is downgrading a powerful manufacturer because it arrived too late to the smart lighting party, it means that this is a whole new reality that we are living in.