How a Research Test Bed Could Improve Smart Lighting

Nov. 20, 2017

Researchers hope to improve operability, efficiency and cybersecurity in connected lighting systems.

Connected lighting systems are on the horizon for buildings, and a new research facility in Portland, OR, will provide opportunities to advance this technology. Managed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Connected Lighting Test Bed is a warehouse space filled with lights, cables, controllers and computers where researchers can study connected lighting.

“Connected lighting has huge potential to improve lighting quality, save energy and provide new services,” says Michael Poplawksi, a PNNL engineer who manages the test bed. “But the convergence of LEDs and networking capabilities makes for a complex landscape. That’s where we can help.”

Test bed researchers hope to standardize collection and formatting methods for connected lighting energy data and improve interoperability in connected lighting systems. Traditionally, mixing products from a variety of manufacturers can cause compatibility issues. The goal is for products from all sources to work together seamlessly.

Researchers hope to apply their findings to large commercial users, starting with hotel chains and big box stores. Because the research is available online, manufacturers can use this information and not keep their own test results private. The hope is that this will speed up widespread adoption of the developing technologies.

The last focus is to build greater resilience against cyberattacks in connected lighting systems. Working with the Industrial Internet Consortium and Underwriters Laboratories, PNNL is developing solutions to protect this burgeoning technology. 

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