Tom Griffiths, Sr. Marketing Manager – Sensor Driven Lighting, ams AG

As a result of two technological advancements, and key technological convergences, lighting is about to come alive, and few enough even inside the lighting industry, may understand the implications. The great advancements are straightforward enough: 1) Nano-optic interference filters; and 2) Sensor-fused chip-scale smart lighting management. Combined with the convergence of cloud-based computing, mesh-networking and ubiquitous connectivity we see the groundwork for lighting to become the IoT sensor-hub for our built spaces. An internet of spatial awareness is being enabled, and that will change as much about our interactions with the spaces we occupy as smartphones changed how we communicate, manage and spend our time.

Why does a filter technologies matter so much? Up to now, precision spectral filtering has been pretty vanilla, covering ambient light (lux), subject to variations over time and temperature. It really hasn’t been possible for high-precision and stability and calibration “for life” to be delivered cost-effectively enough for any type of mass adoption in consumer items or lighting. Interference filters can be incorporated into standard CMOS processes, and are incredibly stable over time and temperature.

Optical sensing with spectral filtering is entering the $50B sensor world in multiple areas, enabling calibrated sensor fusion into chip-scale lighting management solutions. The need for sensor-driven daylight responsive lighting has opened the door to payback for “smart” lighting, and with the added user benefits (including comfort, productivity and health) that will come from spectrally tunable lighting, intelligence will reign in our lights. Lighting always has electricity available, has a great, high-granularity view of the space, and with embedded intelligence, becomes straightforward to tie in to building management systems and the cloud. It’s the perfect sensor hub for our built spaces. And like smartphones, if we build it, the apps will come.

Stuart Lipoff, IEEE Fellow

I believe autonomous vehicles and advancements in intelligent transportation coming into mainstream society is the greatest technological advancement in 2015.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) defines level 4 vehicle designation as: "The vehicle performs all safety-critical functions for the entire trip, with the driver not expected to control the vehicle at any time. As this vehicle would control all functions from start to stop, including all parking functions.” While the promise of allowing “Level 4 transportation” is not yet commercialized or legal in all 50 states (as of today, CA, DC, FL, MI, and NV have laws in place that allow varying degrees of robotic vehicle control), the technology is ready to be rolled out – only waiting for the law, social comfort, and cost to catch up the technology. 

The history of robotic car R&D dates well back in the 1920s, with some significant success toward the level 4 goal in the mid-1980s.  However, in the last few years we have seen a variety of the building blocks needed to gain level 4 designation, including; lane following, cruise control, and anti-collision automatic braking.

Robotic car technological developments are so significant because of the long list of positive benefits they can offer to improve quality of life. These vehicles will be able to significantly enable or restore mobility and independence to seniors and the disabled, as well as provide assistance to the underprivileged with the basis that self-driving vehicles can facilitate economical vehicle sharing.

Other benefits beyond enabling or restoring mobility are also significant and include a long list of promises such as: reduced accidents, more efficient fuel usage, solving parking problems in congested areas (the car can locate an available space), more capacity on existing highways, etc.

Scott Kipp, President, Ethernet Alliance

The greatest technological advancement of 2015 can be seen in Ethernet.  Yes, Ethernet.  The most ubiquitous networking technology entered a new era of dominance in 2015 by developing six new speeds in a single year.  Selling over 1 billion ports per year, Ethernet is being optimized to deliver more bandwidth at lower cost/bit to seal its fate as the leading networking technology.  While Ethernet is continuing to go faster by standardizing 25Gb/s and 50Gb/s and 100Gb/s lanes, Ethernet is also going slower to meet the refined needs of more applications.

Ethernet defined 10 Gigabit/second Ethernet (10GbE) in 2002 and many thought that the industry would convert to 10GbE instead of GbE.  The shift to 10GbE has not happened much outside of the data center because of additional costs and power to go that much faster.  It turns out the industry is often more interested in low cost solutions that re-use installed infrastructure than going faster.  One example of this is the new speeds of 2.5GbE and 5Gbe.   To use the billions of meters of installed Cat 5E cabling, 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T will double and quintuple the throughput over these existing cables.  Ethernet is also increasing the bandwidth of GbE backplanes by the same factors to enable cost and power optimized disk drives.

The existing Ethernet speeds (10M, 100M, 1G, 10G, 40G and 100G) are being supplemented with new speeds of 2.5G, 5G, 25G, 50G, 200G and 400G to go faster and broader than existing speeds.  A few years ago, most Ethernet aficionados would have thought that only faster speeds like 400G would be standardized, but the industry has changed course and is now standardizing these lower speeds to attack new markets.  The large Ethernet ship is proving that is can turn on a dime as well as go faster.

Paul Scheidt, Leader of Product Marketing, LED components, Cree, Inc.

The LED lighting industry continues to make great strides to achieve a better light experience for customers and end users, including customizable technology, improved optics, and lower cost of ownership. A new breakthrough in technology has been the introduction of high intensity LEDs, reaching new levels of performance for stadium, entertainment, spotlights, flashlights and retail applications. With advanced optimized design in both form and delivery, light output becomes more controlled and precise for the most intense directional light output.

High intensity light requires a small apparent optical source size, high light output (lumens) and efficient optic design. Without all three, the light will not be concentrated as needed. Cree® has focused on concentrating the light thrown a long distance with an innovative new primary optic design that reduces the optical source size, while minimizing lumen loss. The smaller the optical source, the smaller the optics or narrower beam angle can be achieved.

Reducing the optical source size while increasing the lumen output allows lighting manufacturers to quickly boost performance, reduce size and lower system cost for applications such as track, outdoor and stadium lighting. Cree’s XLamp® XP-L High Intensity LED, for example, delivers more than double the candelas of the industry’s previous highest performing single-die XP-L LED through the same optic.  Built on Cree’s SC5 Technology™ Platform, allowing LEDs new levels of lumen density and longer lifetime at higher operating temperatures, the HI LEDs quickly boost performance for directional applications such as track and architectural lighting. As an example, a commercially available stadium lighting that delivered 350,500 candelas in a 14 degree beam, achieved 1,179,000 candelas in a 10 degree beam (236% more candelas in narrower beam) when retrofitted with the XLamp® XP-L High Intensity LEDs.

The goal for such need in high intensity class of LEDs is optimization for maximum candela and maximum intensity. Through new innovation and design, LED technology will continue to deliver the best light experience for all applications, furthering the mission of 100 percent LED adoption.

Elly Schietse, Global marketing manager, GreenPeak Communications

2015’s greatest advancement in technology has been the recognition of the misconception of the Internet of Things, making place for the Internet of Services.

The concept of the Internet of Things has been around for many years, but has not yet taken off. The market potential was forecasted by analysts to rocket sky-high, volumes and $ estimated in several billions, trillions. And yet, it did not quite happen in 2015 and we are just starting to understand why.

Consumers want applications, solutions and services. Wearing a Fitbit will not make you fitter, but the online coach who motivates you to run more and harder will help you to accomplish your goals. Installing door or presence sensors will not make your home more secure, unless it is connected to an app that sends an alert to your neighbor or the police when you are away for the weekend and an intruder is detected.

And it is interesting to see how much energy the lights in your teenager’s room use when he leaves them on when he’s not home. This service becomes really attractive when you can actually turn these lights off, remotely.

Today’s connected sensors only provide consumers with the illusion of progress, healthier living, comfort, energy efficiency and security, but the exciting part is in the application behind the sensors that can make decisions for us and can turn off lights when nobody is home, turn off water supplies when a leak is detected or close the back door when we are on holiday.

Today, organizations of all sizes are accelerating business growth with service solutions based on virtualization, collaboration and interconnectivity for the Internet of Services.

Operators and service providers are starting to work with sensor developers, adding cloud application and analytics algorithms to create a service that people need, not a collection of connected sensors. And this is how the Internet of Services can truly become the multi-trillion global opportunity over the next decade.