Feature, IoT/Smart Lighting

Light is ready for the Internet of Things

Hannes Wagner, OSRAM Product Manager

In an interview at LuxLive 2018, Wilhelm Nehring, CEO of OSRAM Digital, predicted that 2019 would be “the year of IoT lighting in professional applications”.

With DEXAL, OSRAM has developed a future-proof interface that will play a crucial role in ensuring that this prediction comes true. LED drivers with the DEXAL interface lay the foundation for a digital ceiling that connects luminaires with integrated sensors and RF modules to set up a close-meshed, radio-based network. This network creates new, hitherto impossible interactions, which are described with the buzzword “IoT”. We talked to Hannes Wagner, Product Manager at OSRAM, to find out what DEXAL is all about.


Can you briefly explain what DEXAL is?

DEXAL is an intra-luminaire interface for radio-based or sensor-controlled luminaires. The interface supplies both radio frequency (RF) modules and sensors with power and also enables the exchange of data within the luminaire. The data is then transferred to a management system via the RF module.


And what happens with the data?

The data is stored and processed both locally and centrally, for example with the cloud-based SiteWorx solution from the OSRAM subsidiary Digital Lumens. The data can be used in a variety of ways – from the simple identification of a luminaire to complex IoT applications. The DEXAL driver itself provides luminaire data, such as energy consumption, temperature and operating hours, which can be analyzed and used for energy optimization or predictive maintenance of the lighting installation.


What is the added value of using sensors?

With DEXAL, different sensors of the same infrastructure can be detected and analyzed. Sensors not only collect additional information, but also enable increasingly accurate evaluations through correlation analyses. For example, presence sensors help to analyze and optimize space utilization in buildings. The data from sensors that measure room conditions, such as temperature, humidity or CO2 concentration, can also be monitored so that actions are triggered when limit values are exceeded.


What prompted the development of DEXAL?

The development began in the USA, where lighting control systems with a 1-10 V interface were primarily used. These are limited in terms of homogeneity of dimming and the set-up of flexible lighting groups. They also require additional wiring, which increases costs and installation time. Radio-based systems have a clear advantage in this context. However, a uniform international wireless technology standard for the communication between luminaires does not exist so far. Nevertheless, the need to enable the easy connection of the different RF modules in a luminaire has to be fulfilled. That’s why we have developed DEXAL.


Will there be a uniform wireless technology standard for luminaires in the future?

Most probably not. Every wireless solution has advantages in certain applications, for example in terms of range, simple interaction with mobile devices or data throughput. Therefore, it is foreseeable that there will always be a certain variety of wireless solutions. Thanks to DEXAL, however, luminaire manufacturers can now provide smart, radio-based luminaires in a very easy way.


Are there any other benefits for luminaire manufacturers?

Definitely. With a DEXAL driver, luminaire manufacturers can not only cover different wireless solutions, but also have lower system costs compared to a mains-powered RF module. Fewer components are required, the installation space in the luminaire is reduced and both luminaire approvals and final production tests become easier. The integration of sensors also enhances the value of the luminaire. In addition, DEXAL offers a particularly low stand-by consumption and luminaire manufacturers can use DEXAL drivers to produce both smart and non-smart luminaires because the data transfer can also be deactivated.


And how do lighting designers benefit from DEXAL?

With DEXAL, lighting designers can set up smart buildings with the management system of their choice. By integrating the sensors into the luminaires, the planning effort is significantly reduced and it is also possible to react very quickly to new space requirements, especially in the case of open-plan offices.


The DEXAL interface is compatible with the products of several partners. What role do these partners play?

The DEXAL interface is used both in buildings and outdoors. Each area has different requirements and calls for specific solutions. OSRAM covers both indoor and outdoor applications, but with the help of our partners, we can offer a much wider range of solutions. In the future, we will focus on certain fields, such as industrial applications with the SiteWorx solution from Digital Lumens. However, with the continuous expansion of our partner network, DEXAL will play an important role in many areas.


Do users have to worry that the DEXAL interface will be obsolete in a few years?

Not at all. DEXAL is a future-proof solution as the luminaires can be adapted to the state of the art at any time, for example to new wireless technology standards such as 5G. Updates, upgrades or even complete technology changes are possible over the entire service life of 20 or 30 years.