Digital Systems

OSRAM partnership with Silvair: “For an open system solution”

Light Management Systems (LMS)

22.04.2020 | Products

As a technology partner of OSRAM, the Polish-American company Silvair has been providing the radio-based Bluetooth mesh technology for the HubSense lighting control system since 2019. Rafal Han, CEO and co-founder of Silvair, reveals the advantages of this technology and the important role it will play in the future.

OSRAM: Mister Han, the Bluetooth mesh technology was conceived in 2014 and adopted in 2017 as a further development of the wireless data transmission via Bluetooth standard. The technology allows many-to-many communication with up to 32,000 nodes. Your company Silvair offers wireless lighting control technology based on this global open standard. Why did you choose Bluetooth Mesh for your technology?

Rafal Han: We believe in open standards – such as Bluetooth mesh. They have always been a catalyst for progress, creating new markets and driving the widespread adoption of technological innovation. They bring the freedom of choice, transparency, and security that no proprietary technology can provide. This is the reason why we ceased the development of our proprietary lighting control solution several years ago, and focused on building a global, open and interoperable wireless standard for professional lighting applications. Around that time, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) launched the Mesh Working Group to standardize the mesh topology for Bluetooth. The Bluetooth SIG is a network of more than 34,000 companies working on Bluetooth technology together. Soon after that, our CTO was appointed the Chair of the Mesh Working Group. Today, we are recognized as Bluetooth mesh experts. We’ve helped build its specifications, and to this day we remain a major contributor to the Bluetooth SIG’s Mesh Working Group.

What do your customers get with your special lighting control system?
On the one hand, we support component manufacturers, facilitating their transition to wireless, and enabling them to join the globally interoperable Bluetooth mesh ecosystem. On the other hand, we provide dedicated software tools for commissioning and managing Bluetooth mesh lighting control networks. As far as our partnership with OSRAM is concerned, our software solutions are used in the HubSense lighting management system.

What is special about the silvair technology?
Our wireless lighting control provides the same degree of reliability and scalability as wired installations. For years, this was not feasible. But the recent technology advancements have finally allowed us to deliver wireless lighting controls with outstanding reliability and reduced complexity at the same time. We offer a solution that can be used in any office, school, warehouse or parking garage to drive energy costs down and facilitate energy code compliance. It’s available basically to anyone. This is also what characterizes OSRAM’s HubSense system.

What are the advantages of Bluetooth mesh over Zigbee?
The three most important aspects of professional lighting control are: scalability, reliability and simplicity. In my opinion, Bluetooth mesh is leading in all three. A professional lighting control system often includes hundreds or even thousands of nodes which require a constant exchange of data. Bluetooth mesh has a long list of unique features that allow us to meet the requirements of such a large network – for instance a very high data rate.

What will be possible in the future with this technology?
As the potential of Bluetooth mesh networks is being examined and put to test by developers around the globe, more and more innovative services keep emerging. Asset tracking, indoor navigation and predictive maintenance are among the most exciting examples. We also have them on our road map, and we’re developing ways of merging them into Bluetooth mesh lighting control systems. The Silvair firmware supports the over-the-air-update feature, which means that new functionalities can be easily added to products that are already installed and operating. A further look at what qualified Bluetooth mesh will offer in the future is available to members of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

Why is this technology important for the future?
Bluetooth mesh unifies the lighting industry around one global standard. This is a huge opportunity for us to transform the existing building stock, and finally make our buildings efficient and sustainable. Nothing like this was available before. What is particularly important is that Bluetooth mesh is not anyone’s product or property, it can be used by anyone. The Bluetooth SIG, to which we belong, keeps developing Bluetooth mesh in line with the lighting industry’s expectations, so we can expect new exciting features in next specification releases.

Where is your technology already in use?
There are multiple real-life implementations both in Europe and the US. You can find our technology in offices, warehouses, schools, museums, and parking garages – and even in Las Vegas’ iconic Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S.

Why do you cooperate with OSRAM?
OSRAM is one of the most established brands in the lighting industry, globally recognized for high-quality products and innovative solutions across diverse applications. With its HubSense system it offers a complete solution. As an open standard, Bluetooth mesh creates equal opportunities both for industry heavyweights, and for small family companies. But the participation of major lighting brands is important for the further development of the Bluetooth mesh ecosystem. OSRAM’s involvement sends a strong signal to the entire industry, confirming the enormous potential of Bluetooth mesh networking in professional lighting applications.

How will data from OSRAM Bluetooth mesh components be used on your platform in the future?
OSRAM has been working for years on solutions for providing luminaire data and is a leader in this field. Bluetooth mesh technology is best suited as a data carrier, especially for providing larger amounts of data from an intelligent lighting infrastructure. Data usage is the future of lighting control. This way, we can make buildings sustainable and adapt them to the needs of their users.