By 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) will generate a global economic value of 1.9 trillion dollars, with more than 30 million devices connected to the internet (today, there are just 10 million). These are the latest forecasts from US analysis company, Gartner. We firmly believe that this is not just a new ICT pattern, but a revolutionary phenomenon that will redefine the boundaries of existing markets and offer companies huge benefits through means of new scenarios and different business models.
by Nicoletta Boldrini, marketing & communication manager at ROLD Group S.p.A.
From our perspective, two strands leading back to the IoT, a topic we feel is very important, are the Internet of Lights and Social Lighting.
Lighting plays an important role in people’s well-being and lifestyle: informed use of light, efficient light sources with a chromatic output increasingly similar to sunlight, dynamic and flexible real-time automatic control, are all elements that will help improve the quality of people’s life in the workplace, at school, in hospitals, at home and in canteens and restaurants. The focus is on well-being and quality of life, with light engineering being a means to attain them both.
Understanding the biological and social effects of light on human beings is one of the fundamental steps to making it genuinely ‘smart’. The Internet of Things has now expanded to the Internet of Lights, but what makes ‘things’ smart? Together with the e-Services Life & Health research centre at the San Raffaele Hospital, which focuses on the Human Factor, the ‘human side’ of the Internet of Lights, we recently launched a research and development product based precisely on this aspect.
However, in general, there are endless future scenarios for manufacturers. The Internet of Things becomes a model allowing for the smart and informed control of energy consumption, for instance. This is an element that should not be underestimated by manufacturers who use a lot of electricity and need large amounts of it for their production sites. The extensive knowledge about how an electrical appliance is actually used, with the safe transmission of energy consumption data, could even lead companies operating in the sector to redefine their after-sales policies through targeted preventive maintenance and customer care services. This is precisely one of the most fitting examples when speaking of ‘redefining business models’ by switching from the ‘pure’ sale of a product to offering services.
Modern technologies allow you to control and monitor the energy consumption of electrical and electronic equipment through innovative systems requiring significant investments (home automation, WI-FI systems, new communication protocols, etc.).
The ROLD Group overcomes these barriers by proposing a smart power monitoring system accessible to all and without infrastructural interventions to corporate offices or homes. ROLD has developed, together with Tekpea, an American company specialising in smart metering with offices in Palo Alto, a number of electrical devices integrating a control system able to precisely assess the energy absorbed and consumed by the various devices being monitored; from all household appliances commonly found in private homes, to all systems requiring an ordinary power socket in order to work (lighting systems, air-conditioning systems, manufacturing machines, industrial systems, electrical and electronic appliances in shops, warehouses, labs, hotels, sports centres, etc.).
The ROLD plugins (”smart” power sockets) and the embedded systems exploit the common power line, in order to collect and send electric consumption data and can be applied to any kind of electrical equipment to ensure its safe energy management and control. Users can monitor and control its consumption independently through a simple App directly from their tablet or smartphone, or alternatively via a web portal, which can be accessed via an internet browser.For us, the first step was to develop a new ‘embedded monitoring’ system, integrated within the LED ceiling lamps that we sell: by exploiting the power line for the transmission of data, our embedded systems allow for the genuine control over the use of a single lamp or groups of lamps. In fact, the system intelligence not only allows for the real-time assessment of the effective energy expenditure by the lamp, both in terms of watt consumption and spending, but also for its ‘smart use’, which is controlled and managed through the creation of usage scenarios, modelled according to the specific application of the lamp and the context in which it is installed. All this constantly through data transmission via a power line.
ROLD’s SmartPower system can already be applied to any kind of device, not just lighting systems (we started with them simply because they are naturally applicable to the lamps that we make). Drawing some conclusions on IoT trends and technologies enabling the business we belive there is still much to discover and create. We believe that a manufacturer who wishes to evolve and continue to be successful must have a long-term forward-thinking approach and must invest in resources (not just economic solutions, but also resources in terms of time and expertise), as well as find the courage to ‘experiment’ with the power of innovation, of course without neglecting the importance of efficiency, safety and governance.