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Australia might not be an early adopter, but it’s ‘ready for connected ceilings’

Onno Willemse, Philips’ business leader of connected lighting, says Australia is ready to take advantage of the potential of power-over-Ethernet. Philips' own system was developed with help from its Australian controls division, Dynalite.

Visitors to the Sparc international lighting event were the first in Australia to see a demonstration of Philips’ LED ‘ceiling’ of connected luminaires powered by Ethernet.

Philips’ system lets facility managers monitor all the services in a building with a single system of data cables – the kind that plugs into a router and connects the IT network in an office.

The fittings in Philips’ system can capture data on room occupancy, temperature and humidity and connect with other building systems such as heating, ventilation and IT services.

According to Onno Willemse, Philips’ business leader of connected lighting, who spoke at Sparc, it may not be long before smart fittings powered by Ethernet are a reality in office buildings in Australia.

‘Australia might not always be the fastest when it comes to the uptake of new technologies, but the technology is standard and the risks are low, so this new system is a huge opportunity for businesses here,’ he told Lux.

‘Our workplaces have fundamentally changed in recent years to people-centric buildings, with flexible, activity-based workspaces becoming the norm.’

It’s not just facility managers in office buildings who benefit from the control they get with a networked ceiling. Office workers can control their individual lighting schemes with their smartphones, and applications aren’t restricted to offices: ‘Retailers, airports, hospitality – any area where you want to learn from how that space is being used would benefit,’ Willemse said.

A real application of the digital ceiling already exists, albeit on Philips’ home turf. Deloitte’s  office building in Amsterdam has been fitted with a Philips LED connected lighting system, powered with power-over-Ethernet technology.

The system was developed in collaboration with Australian controls company Dynalite, which became part of Philips in 2009. ‘Since then a lot of our developments have taken place in Australia,’ or together with our team in Australia, said Willemse.

‘We’ve developed a number of innovative lighting solutions with Dynalite in the past, so from that perspective, Australia is a very innovative environment.’

A digital ceiling will soon be installed in Philips’ office in the suburb of North Ryde in Sydney.