Digital Ceilings and Connected Lighting: Old Ideas New Spin

You may have heard the terms Digital Ceilings or Connected Lighting. You may have thought these were new ideas for best practice lighting control and future lighting systems.

But are these new terms for old practices, spruiked as the new future by a few manufacturers?

As the lighting & controls industry has digitally transformed, this has resulted in reducing revenue and profits from traditional product distribution models and accelerated a move forward to services-based platforms and models.

Is there anything wrong with repackaging old ideas as new?

Understanding what these terms mean and being clear how prevalent Digital Ceilings already are, just under a different name, is important for decision makers. 

digital ceilings

What are Digital Ceilings?

Digital Ceilings, in lighting control terms, describes a situation where every light point can be individually addressed and communicated with, digitally.

Add to this an array of sensors in the same ceiling grid and connected to the same light points providing a range of user and environmental feedback (data) and this data is used to enable the lighting control system (lighting system) to achieve the goals of energy savings, occupant comfort, workspace optimisation leading to increased productivity.

That is, moving lighting system beyond just illumination.

What is Connected Lighting?

A Connected Lighting system is one which provides access to the data created from the Digital Ceiling, is connected via Ethernet to other systems and services and visualises this data in such a way that decision driven datasets are provided to:

  • * Save more energy providing higher rental returns and greater capital value in properties. 
  • * Increase productivity to get more from the same or fewer company assets and employees. 
  • * Maximise space utilisation to leverage expenses and reduce costs. 

Moving Digital Intelligence Into the Ceiling (and out of the electrical distribution board)

Other advantages of Digital Ceilings and Connected lighting systems is the ability of capturing and using the data from the digital ceilings to make things better for humans in illuminated spaces. This includes, for example,  using mobile devices so occupants are able to control lighting from their own device wherever they are in the space.

In our ‘Internet of Things’ world where machines are communicating with machines without any human interaction, creating data sets is inevitably and positively increasing and expanding how lighting systems add value.

It will be the ability to visualise, diagnose and act on this data that will ultimately change how lighting systems and digital ceilings are used for more than providing a tuned lighting environment.



DALI Creates Digital Ceilings

DALI-Logo-TrademarkDALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) as the international standard for lighting control has provided this digital ceiling functionality for over 17 years with the added benefit of DALI compliance providing a minimum performance guarantee and no vendor lock in.

DALI’s very name and base operation defines its digital nature and functionality. Recently tools such as RAPIX Addressing -which solves one of DALI’s major irks by dramatically increasing the speed and ease of DALI short addressing have become available.

Further, innovative new DALI systems such as RAPIX Lighting Control System, which is embedded with Ethernet, 128bit encrypted communications and DALI out of the box also solves common DALI issues cited.

This includes simplifying DALI cross line communications, overcoming the limited group and scene capability and reducing the time taken to fully commission a DALI lighting control system, whilst maintaining 100% DALI Compliance.

The Age Old Argument: Closed vs Open – which serves the customer best?

open-vs-closed-lighting-control-systems-debateIn an open standards world with open protocols and international standards such as DALI, more free market and less oligopoly, end users, developers and facility managers can choose where to buy hardware and service from.

They can choose from a large variety in an open market where to receive their DALI Digital Ceilings solutions which already encompass the ‘new’ benefits of ‘new’ Connected Lighting systems.

Its a Question of Value

So, do the newly spruiked Digital Ceilings and Connected Lighting Systems with their closed product and services ecosystems and supply chains  provide tangible value?

More importantly, value beyond the cost and function of the current Digital Ceilings / Connected Lighting systems?

Can one achieve the same outcome for less time and money more easily already?

Measurable value which truly leverages on the ethos of and delivers on the promise of using lighting beyond illumination?

Enough value to justify the impending long term technology lock-in and a price premium? (whether that be CAPEX or OPEX based?)

Or is the question when will they scale the cost/value tipping point?