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Smart Life: The Intelligence of Electronics Improving Our Lives, Part 2

In Smart Life: The Intelligence of Electronics Improving Our Lives, Part 1 of this blog series I introduced the smart life as a new trend of the electronics industry whose goal is to improve the life of customers by means of the industrializing the market of products of the following types:

  • SMART SENSING
  • SMART LIGHTING
  • SMART MOTOR CONTROL
  • SMART BRAIN
  • SMART POWER

SMART LIGHTING

Smart lighting electronic solutions have been presented by STMicroelectronics Company at the i-Sedex 2014 edition in Seoul, Korea. STMicroelectronics extended its portfolio of integrated power ICs for LED driving by adding some features for the remote control of the LED lights, thus realizing a smart remote control process on a real time basis: Smart lighting.

Smart lighting activity consists of the sensing of the illumination level of a controlled ambient, like, for example, a room of a smart house, by means of ALS (Ambient Light Sensor) IC (see Figure 1). The ALS system has an integrated proximity sensor, in order to add the further feature of sensing the presence of hosts in the room; hence two different datasets are available, containing the information of the illumination level required by the room. A central computing integrated core, like, for example, a microcontroller, is the central part of the smart lighting system, an it processes the data, and by crossing the datasets is able to take actions like switch off the LED lights in case of no human presence to save energy.

Figure 1

An ALS + proximity sensing integrated circuit (source: STMicroelectronics)

An ALS + proximity sensing integrated circuit (source: STMicroelectronics)

Remote control of LED lights can be performed by the users smart device (i-phone, tablet, pc) and this feature is realized by means of a wireless communication protocol at a communication frequency up to 1GHZ, to ensure a high level of integration of the smart light control system and above all an effective remote control of the LED lights in terms of energy savings and, furthermore, in terms of easy on-demand regulation of the illumination of a room of a smart building.

The idea of a smart lighting is the inspiring principle of an innovative new smart object presented at the Saie Smart City Exhibition 2014: the Solenica Robot (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

The Solenica robot, a solution for illuminating the smart houses (source: Solenica.com)

The Solenica robot, a solution for illuminating the smart houses (source: Solenica.com)

As it is shown in a demonstrative video that is loaded in the vimeo website and linked to the website of the Solenica company, this robot senses the sunlight direction, by means of optoelectronics sensors, and it directs some reflective screens in that direction in order to illuminate a certain point of a smart house, for example a plant, as showed in Figure 2.

The source of energy that feeds the robot, by mean of photovoltaic integrated cells and, at the same time, the energy that illuminates the smart house, is the solar energy, that is totally renewable and the possibility to direct the reflected sunlight is a really effective solution to illuminate a particular dark point of the house. This solution leads to the saving of a large amount of electric energy, thus reducing the carbon emission footprint for each habitant of the smart house down of a ton. The Solenica robot has been utilized also in a park in Rome, the Bio-Park, to illuminate a cage for parrots that was unutilized because of poor exposure to the sunlight as showed in the bottom part of Figure 2.

Do you like the smart lighting approach? Do you think that the utilization of renewable sources of energy, that consecutively have a low impact on the environment reducing the carbon emissions, like the case of the Solenica robot, will effectively make life better for human beings that live in that environment? What other utilizations of the smart lighting solution do you see as an option?

52 comments on “Smart Life: The Intelligence of Electronics Improving Our Lives, Part 2

  1. Vishal Prajapati
    January 23, 2015

    Like the idea of both the solutions. The sensor from ST is better alternative and probably power and cost effective solution compared to PIR sensors for the indoor usage.

     

    The Mirror arrangement is the ultimate idea. It is the must have things for all the corporate offices where most of the people don't get sunlight. It is both energy efficient and natural lighting improves the human efficiency also. Not sure of how practical it is to implement.

  2. samicksha
    January 23, 2015

    The most interesting fact of Smart power is that it has been part of every US govt since a decade i believe. But one thing which has not mitigated, it operates in an environment of threats, ranging from cybersecurity to terrorism. Not only in US but it exist in a international environment.

  3. geek
    January 25, 2015

     

    “But one thing which has not mitigated, it operates in an environment of threats, ranging from cybersecurity to terrorism. Not only in US but it exist in a international environment.”

     

    @Samicksha: From what I have read, the threats are more linked with political reasons than have anything to do with the technology or the environment as such. Smart Power is the way to go in the future and it should be given strategic importance.

  4. geek
    January 25, 2015

    “The Mirror arrangement is the ultimate idea. It is the must have things for all the corporate offices where most of the people don't get sunlight. It is both energy efficient and natural lighting improves the human efficiency also. Not sure of how practical it is to implement.”

    @Vishal: I agree. It does seem like a very interesting idea and one that would involve conserving a lot of energy. What's important here is to consider the practical nature of the technology and whether the theoretical benefits can be converted into real cost savings.

  5. geek
    January 25, 2015

    “What other utilizations of the smart lighting solution do you see as an option?”

    I think one of the utilizations can be related to involving solar power along with the light. The robot trasmitting light can also have solar panels within it so that it is able to store solar energy and use that energy to provide lighting at night.

  6. samicksha
    January 26, 2015

    @tzubair, I cannot deny the fact though, but smart power involves the strategic use of diplomacy in ways that are cost-effective and have political and social legitimacy.  I believe it is not only us, but ther are number of people around who have very limited education on smart power, another aspect is organizational failures within agencies presents another obstacle to successful smart power implementation.

  7. samicksha
    January 26, 2015

    There was report released by CSIS COMMISSION ON SMART POWER wherin they highlight challenges like addressing climate change and energy insecurity. You may find interesting read.

    csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/071106_csissmartpowerreport.pdf

  8. ue2014
    January 27, 2015

    I also agree on both points and believe that it would be a good approch for offices. 

    As an energy saving initiative, many new corporate offices that being bult modern days are using Open Office Concept, where even architectures focus more on getting sunlight into buildings to minimize the energy usage and as cost saving initiative. 

    Such innovations and smart metholodgies of using technology could help to reduce the energy usage. 

  9. Sachin
    January 28, 2015

    What is smarter? Smart office spaces with IOT lighting solutions. I've heard these IOT sensors can detect human presence in the room and can regulate lights/central AC in order to minimize the bill and wastage.

  10. samicksha
    January 28, 2015

    Not IOT specifically but yes we do have sensors available which can sense human presence in meeting room or office, although we don't have high number of deployment yet, due to its high cost and maintenance. I am sure these IOT sensors will not be so cost friendly.

  11. Sachin
    January 28, 2015

     I am sure these IOT sensors will not be so cost friendly.


    @Samicksha: I woudn't be so sure about that, since IOT home and office lighting would be more affordable when IOT comes down at full force upon the market, and then the market value would decrease. We're talking about the same sensors you are talking, but attached to the cloud.

  12. Sachin
    January 28, 2015

    The Mirror arrangement is the ultimate idea. It is the must have things for all the corporate offices where most of the people don't get sunlight. It is both energy efficient and natural lighting improves the human efficiency also. Not sure of how practical it is to implement.


    @Vishal: Architecturally placing large mirrors is a little difficult, however, the human mind can do anything. For example I know of interior designers use glass shards as reflector on the inside walls of the building to make light bounce off them and flood the floors with sunlight.

  13. Sachin
    January 29, 2015

    @tzubair: You are right. Some politicians don't want to go the way of smart power because they have a habit of keeping a panel dedicated to steal. For example, this panel overbills the offices for nicking something for themselves and they have no document to show for it. Smart power eradicates all the wastage and hence saves money, which is a big no-no for politicians.

  14. Sachin
    January 29, 2015

    Solar panel power conservation seems to be a very nice addition to managing reflected sunlight. Stored solar power has many advantages. If this is done then the building can be self sufficient and wouldn't have to draw from other power sources including powergrids, at the same time reducing costs and promoting green energy. Quite a model I would say.

  15. Sachin
    January 29, 2015

    @samicksha: I hope educating them would be an option if not they aren't already influenced by the money that un-smart power brings in. There are a lot of technical issues (leading to political issues) that are barring the technology from being applied to office buildings. I hope that issues are solved fast.

  16. samicksha
    January 29, 2015

    I am little skeptical here, IOT home does not seem to be effective or valid, one of the reason is IOT still does not have standard and prone to number unattended security challenges

  17. Vishal Prajapati
    January 30, 2015

    Sachin, the Mirror arrangement is possible and practical. With smart design, it can be integrated in to the morden buildings also, and that too will not be noticable.

     

    I have seen the practical design implementation in my collage as an academic project long back in 2006 in Indian Science Congress. It was promising project.

  18. Vishal Prajapati
    January 30, 2015

    Yes reflected sunlight used in the energy conversion is again very nice idea and has been implemented in commercial products in India. And I am sure lot of other part of the world is using it. One such solar project is in Spain which is operational since 2011.

  19. nasimson
    January 30, 2015

    Re-directing sunlight is good. But it only works only in the day. Void of solar panels, can the light be trapped in the noon & released in the evening? Just like the heat is trapped and released.

  20. nasimson
    January 30, 2015

    @Vishal:

    > Yes reflected sunlight used in the energy conversion is again very nice idea
    > and has been implemented in commercial products in India.

    If its India, it must be low cost. Vishal can you please share the links of such commercial offering?

  21. Vishal Prajapati
    January 30, 2015

    Oho that is very futuristic idea. I have never seen storing light on even an experimental level. But that could do a lot more than we can think.

  22. geek
    January 30, 2015

    “I believe it is not only us, but ther are number of people around who have very limited education on smart power, another aspect is organizational failures within agencies presents another obstacle to successful smart power implementation.”

    @samicksha: I think as far as organizational failure is concerned, there are multiple ways to handle that. You need better people in your technology team who have a clear cut understanding of the technology are able to make bold decisions like moving towards smart power knowing all the consequences and costs.

  23. geek
    January 30, 2015

    “As an energy saving initiative, many new corporate offices that being bult modern days are using Open Office Concept, where even architectures focus more on getting sunlight into buildings to minimize the energy usage and as cost saving initiative. “

    @ue2014: I think the biggest barrier that comes up in projects like these is the initial investment. The Open Office concept requires an extensive design team and huge investment. But it yields results in the long run in the form of cost savings. You need to have a vision and a long-term plan to go for this approach.

  24. PCR
    January 31, 2015

    Yes Vishal, Mirror arrangement is a good idea, now a day's modern architecture are follow the rule of getting more sunlight for interior lighting. But for this mirror arrangement will have practical problems for sure.  

  25. PCR
    January 31, 2015

    True tzubair, the will be a bright future for the smart power option. So the duty of the government should b promoting those and giving a helping hand for those projects rather than putting troubles to it. 

  26. PCR
    January 31, 2015

    Tzubair, when it comes to the solar power the best way of using it is a combining it with the central power supply. Where we are giving a power in the day time and getting the power from the central system in the night time. 

  27. PCR
    January 31, 2015

    Ue2014 yes open office concept is a thing that I also like, but the thing is it will cost more energy than the lighting or the air conditioning cause that the sun light has more heat than the other lighting options. 

  28. nasimson
    January 31, 2015

    @Vishal:

    I got a partial answer to my question:

    “light (or any electromagnetic radiation) is one of the – if not the – shortest-living forms of energy at all due its restricted existence at the speed of light..”

    source:
    physics.stackexchange*com/questions/55768/why-cant-we-store-light-in-the-form-of-light

  29. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    @Ranasinghe: Costly than lighting ? How can that be ? 

  30. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    @Ranasinghe: Well night time is the time where you use or consume most of the electricity. So it would be better if we can find an alternative to overcome and minimize the consumption of electricity

  31. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    @ranasinghe: Good point mate. True there will be a very good market for it if it can be enhanced to a level which it can cater to the mass market

  32. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    @ranasinghe: What kind of practical problems are you referring to here mate ? Do you mean the security aspects behind it ? 

  33. yalanand
    January 31, 2015

    Tzubair, when it comes to the solar power the best way of using it is a combining it with the central power supply. Where we are giving a power in the day time and getting the power from the central system in the night time. 

    Most models use the centrally located power supply, however this model is being done with because if the physical components fail then the office space would have to rely on the backup generator, rather than the solar power that was stored.

  34. yalanand
    January 31, 2015

    @Ranasinghe: Well night time is the time where you use or consume most of the electricity. So it would be better if we can find an alternative to overcome and minimize the consumption of electricity.


    We could use renewable sources of energy, only problem is harvesting such sources needs decent amount of exposures as well as physical components that are costly to buy. 

  35. yalanand
    January 31, 2015

    True tzubair, the will be a bright future for the smart power option. So the duty of the government should b promoting those and giving a helping hand for those projects rather than putting troubles to it. 


    @ranasinghe: It doesn't work like that. Politicians will make such sources really hard to be installed into the office spaces because they would make lesser money out of it. Politics kills most technical achievments.

  36. yalanand
    January 31, 2015

    @ue2014: I think the biggest barrier that comes up in projects like these is the initial investment. The Open Office concept requires an extensive design team and huge investment. But it yields results in the long run in the form of cost savings. You need to have a vision and a long-term plan to go for this approach.


    I agree as well. However initial investment is as much necessary as the need to reduce expenses incurred due to energy wastage. If we take into account the total energy wastage and overbills in a year, then we can easily see that it is far greater than the initial investment. 

  37. yalanand
    January 31, 2015

    Yes Vishal, Mirror arrangement is a good idea, now a day's modern architecture are follow the rule of getting more sunlight for interior lighting. But for this mirror arrangement will have practical problems for sure.  


    Well to start with: maintenance! Mirrors can break and wreck havoc in an office space. Not to mention the unnecessary extra space installing mirrors would take, and thirdly mirrors need to be polished regularly because the internal AC would moisten up the mirrors. 

  38. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    @yalanand: Well in that case you have to have politics separated from this. No politics involved. 

  39. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    @yalanand: Are these renewable sources of electricity have the same amount of power that the new ones

  40. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    @yalanand: Why cant they use solar power ? Is it because of the levels ? 

  41. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    @dassa.an: Do you thing that right now it does not have any impact on the market ? 

  42. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    True mate, it's the most important time but I guess there are some research going on related to what you have suggested 

  43. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    @dassa.an: Yes it surprised me too. Wondering how that can be. 

  44. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    Do you mean to say that when it comes for changing the whole thing or just maintaining? If its just maintaining the cost would be very minimal

  45. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    @chris: Well that's good news indeed. I hope they will do it sooner than later because with time certain things do die off and new things arise. 

  46. dassa.an
    January 31, 2015

    @chris: It certainly has but you can improve it and there are plenty of room for it to happen. 

  47. chirshadblog
    January 31, 2015

    @dassa.an: Yes there are but you cannot make drastic changes to it because it will scare the users a bit.  E.g: Windows 8

  48. geek
    January 31, 2015

    “So the duty of the government should b promoting those and giving a helping hand for those projects rather than putting troubles to it. “

    @Ranasinghe: I think if worked properly, projects like these can actually yield very strong support for any government. The general public very highly rewards projects like these and any government that invests into it will have a favorable response from the masses and be able to build strong support.

  49. geek
    January 31, 2015

    “If we take into account the total energy wastage and overbills in a year, then we can easily see that it is far greater than the initial investment. “

    @yalandand: I agree. However, my point was that despite the strong returns, there would be companies that wouldn't want to invest initially. They may have other important projects to invest into. Or, they simply may have no funds at all.

  50. Davidled
    February 1, 2015

    Installing solar panels might cost too much, and power efficiency might not be high percentages as much as exepcted, even though PV technology is being developed continuously. Solar panels require the area to be very bright and sunny in order to get the power from it.

  51. Vishal Prajapati
    February 1, 2015

    Yes you are right. that's why people are smart enough to invent the photo-voltaic arrays to convert and store the energy.

  52. David Maciel Silva
    February 2, 2015

    It really is the advancement of technology to iluminção, an efficient control and with remote possibility.

    However, using renewable energy sources is necessary, of course, aligning the 2 Can a product even more efficient.

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