AllSeen to Shine a Light on Internet of Things

The IoT consortium has formed a working group that will develop an open standard for smart lighting.

Internet of things

The AllSeen Alliance, one of several industry consortiums developing open standards for the Internet of things, is turning its attention to lights in homes and businesses.

AllSeen, which launched 10 months ago, is putting together the Connected Lighting Working Group, which will develop an open framework that will enable smart light bulbs to communicate with people or other connected devices. Such capabilities would open up a realm of possibilities in a range of areas, from energy conservation to security.

"Connected lighting has the potential to be one of the most dramatic applications of the Internet of Everything in homes and businesses," Marc Alexander, CTO at smart lighting company LIFX and chairman of AllSeen's Connected Lighting Working Group, said in a statement. "To meet that potential, lights need the ability to proximally discover one another and other things, regardless of brand, platform or OS. That's why there is a strong need in the market for a connected lighting framework based on open standards."

AllSeen, which has 80 members that include tech vendors and appliance makers, is creating an open framework based on the AllJoyn code originally developed by Qualcomm engineers. The Internet of things (IoT) envisions a world where billions of smart appliances and devices communicate with each other. Analysts and tech vendors estimate that, by 2020, there will be between 26 billion and 50 billion connected systems, from smartphones and tablets to cars, industrial systems and home appliances. Ensuring that these devices can communicate through an open framework is the goal of AllSeen and similar groups.

Lighting is the first focus area for AllSeen, and with good reason. The group cited numbers from market research firm TechNavio indicating that the connected lighting market will grow 36.4 percent a year between 2013 and 2018.

AllSeen officials said such connected lighting will be able to be controlled by a smartphone application, a home automation controller or by other connected devices. They pointed to several scenarios for smart lighting, such as a smart doorbell that can communicate to the lights, making them flash when someone is at the door. Another example would be a smart home security system that could make indoor and outdoor lights blink if there is a security problem in the building. And the security system also would turn on a camera to record what was happening. Another example: a baby monitor could make the lights in a family room pulse when the baby begins waking from a nap.

The working group will develop an AllJoyn-based standard for lighting that will be called the Lighting Service Framework, which AllSeen officials said not only will enable greater interoperability between lighting and other devices, but also will make it possible for third-party developers to more easily create lighting applications. Such applications could enable people and other devices to control such lighting features as hue, brightness and colors, depending on the preference of the building owner.

The consortium expects the first applications from the Connected Lighting Working Group by the end of the year.

The IoT promises to be a big business in the years ahead. IDC analysts have said IoT revenues could hit $7.1 trillion by 2020, and Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers said the overall financial impact for businesses workload could approach $19 trillion by that year.

Several other industry groups are looking to develop open standards for the IoT, including the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), which was founded by Intel, Dell, Samsung and other groups, and the Thread Group, a consortium started by—among others—Samsung, ARM and Google's Nest Labs business. Both groups launched in July.