Enlighted Helps Pioneer the IoT in Lighting, Adding Intelligence and Sensors in Luminaire Controls

A company called Enlighted Inc. combines its advanced sensor technology with an intelligent back-end system for analysis. Numerous Fortune 500 companies including AT&T and Agilent Technologies have begun using Enlighted’s sensor technology to control and monitor their lighting. Enlighted intends to be a pioneer of the Internet of Things, combining data from its sensors with lighting.

“We can create a ‘thing’ that is economically viable in its own right,” Zach Gentry, vice president of business development at Enlighted, said.  Then, Enlighted combines it with its Smart Sensors, Room Control, Energy Manager, and Real-time Data and analysis.

Joe Costello, CEO of Enlighted stated, “We are especially eager to support lighting OEMs to integrate our technology directly into their fixtures during the manufacturing process, ensuring their fixtures are part of the holistic building optimization story and driving down the cost of the integrated fixtures. Likewise, we want to show specifiers how they are able to refocus on the aesthetic, quality and impact of illumination, with the assurance that the complexity of these integrating lighting systems has already been addressed.”

Most companies employ passive infrared (PIR) sensors to tell lights to turn on when someone is present. However, PIR sensors by themselves have significant drawbacks, according to Zach. Each PIR sensor can only tell if there is something warm in the vicinity or not. It has no way of knowing what is making the heat signature. Space heaters and fax machines can often give false positive readings to standard PIR sensors, Zach pointed out.

Many lighting companies have combined PIR sensors with microphones and ultrasonic sensors to provide a second means of validating human presence.  But in environments with a lot of ambient noise like data centers, parking garages, or distribution centers, many such sensors do more to obfuscate occupancy detection, insists Zach.  Therefore, while more successful at detecting people, such sensor combinations lead to a different problem – intuiting human presence when a new set of false conditions arise. Neither solution can show granular changes over time and across an area.  In other words, such dual sensors don’t provide much valuable data.

In part, that’s where using LED lighting is helpful because LEDs are inherently digital technology and can be easily adapted and controlled digitally. “LEDs are a godsend to us,” Zach explained.

Enlighted attempted to improve the state of the art by digitizing the data that comes out of the PIR element and analyzing different waveforms.  It turned out that it was possible to distinguish between the signature of a human being and other radiative bodies, according to Zach.  With a microprocessor and the sensor itself, the sensors can very accurately follow a person as they exit the space of one sensor and enter the space of the next. For the first time, the sensors can be used to provide a reasonably accurate picture of human traffic in the built environment.  From this vantage point, Zach believes a whole host of new capabilities may be unlocked for real estate professionals including HVAC optimization, real estate optimization, life safety security improvements, and asset tracking.

Also, the sensors incorporate electricity usage monitoring, which by means of the wireless backhaul, makes energy data available in an environment where most facilities operators were previously in the dark.  So along with other statistics, an office can keep track of which luminaires are on most often, and when they are used. In the rare event that a luminaire is no longer functioning, the system can tell which luminaire needs to be replaced or fixed.

According to Enlighted’s website:

    The data from each sensor unit is collected and then transmitted wirelessly for use in Enlighted’s Dashboards and applications.

    Then Enlighted’s Gateways act as conduits between Smart Sensors and the Energy Manager. They wirelessly gather data from individual sensors, and they can send commands and updates to individual sensors.

    Enlighted’s Energy Manager stores, performs an analysis. A browser-based dashboard provides visual reporting of sensor data and analysis. Additionally, the Energy Manager can extend data reporting to 3rd party systems through various ports and peripherals. Also, through the Energy Manager, an administrator can create profiles and adjust settings of the entire Enlighted Advanced Lighting Control System.

    Enlighted’s web-based dashboard refreshes with real-time data about occupancy and energy consumption that is sampled every 5 seconds. Administrators can examine historical data for each fixture or an entire building. Additionally, custom settings can be profiled, and the behavior rules can be set for specific fixtures.

Enlighted's Sensor and Data Backend

Enlighted’s Sensor and Data Backend

Together these sensors and the real-time data backend can do what no one else’s can, Zach asserted. They can tell you not only if there are people present, but how many there are within a certain margin of error.  This capability opens up a new market for lighting sensors, real estate optimization. “Knowing the utilization of a company’s space is unknown and hugely valuable,” Zach said.

Zach related how one of Enlighted’s client companies had a 40,000 square foot office. Enlighted’s system of intelligent sensors found out that out of the 250 people with access to the office, only one person used it regularly! This knowledge and the decision to reduce the office size could save the company tremendous amounts of money.

Enlighted separates offices into about five different types of usage areas including open offices, closed offices, walkways/hallways, and warehouses. Each area type has a set of lighting behavior rules for turning on,  turning off, and dimming lights.

In this case as in many others that Solid State Lighting Design has covered, LED lighting serves as the hub for the Internet of Things. Enlighted’s Sensor technology and LED lighting control platform not only controls the lighting, but also gives its users a flood of data over time.

“The key initial application for the Enlighted System is lighting. Current commercial customers like Google, AT&T and Starbucks are already saving more than 70 percent on lighting energy costs through occupancy sensing, task tuning, daylight harvesting, time of day control, and more,” said Costello. “But the data collected extends beyond lighting, including everything from controlling heating and cooling to monitoring people movement in buildings and retail stores for both productivity and safety purposes. Our long-term goal is to leverage and activate the data gathered by the Enlighted system for communication with a building management system that enables controls. We want to alter the whole building experience with greater visibility and control.”

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