How One Bluetooth Member is
Helping to Define the Future of
Intelligent Lit Spaces

With thousands of installations around the globe, Xicato is a leading supplier of high-quality lighting solutions. For more than ten years, Xicato has been on the frontlines of the movement to transform lighting into a platform to create smart spaces, and they were key Mesh Working Group contributors that helped bring the Bluetooth mesh networking specifications to life.

Xicato controls include deep-dimming drivers with wired and Bluetooth® wireless control, as well as switches, sensors, gateways, and software that are designed for scalable commercial applications – all part of a flexible, open, standards-based system.

Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with Jay Shuler, Xicato’s Director of Product Marketing, and we discussed the ways in which Xicato is using Bluetooth technology to help shape the future of intelligent lit spaces.

Q & A with Xicato

What does Bluetooth enable for your company, and why have you chosen to use Bluetooth technology?

Bluetooth has emerged as the technology of choice for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The use of Bluetooth — including Bluetooth mesh — for connectivity between lighting, sensor, switch, and gateway nodes was an easy choice to help satisfy the requirements for our wide variety of customers across four continents. Bluetooth provides the best available balance of bandwidth, range, and reliability in a low-energy wireless technology. Its ubiquitous deployment in billions of devices worldwide makes it a natural choice for services that involve end-user interaction.

Can you share more about projects you are currently working on with Bluetooth technology in an emerging use case or market?

Xicato has numerous live deployments of Bluetooth wireless controls, starting in 2016 with the Braemar Gallery in Australia and The Museon in The Hague [PDF] and continuing with the Wadden Sea Centre in Denmark, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam [PDF], Westminster Abbey in London, the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, and many others.

Each of these projects introduced some new capability of a Bluetooth based system: iOS smartphone control, BMS and AV system integration, complex scheduling with sensor and switch control, mesh networking, and more.

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How do you hope these projects will influence other implementors?

We hope that these projects help demonstrate what is possible with Bluetooth lighting control and that our example will convince the market of the many advantages of Bluetooth and the peer-to-peer, flood mesh architecture that it employs. We hope users will migrate away from complex, expensive wired solutions, as well as systems based on older, outdated and proprietary wireless technologies.

Our projects demonstrate that, even in its early stages of development, a Bluetooth based system can reduce the cost and complexity of lighting control to the point that it can be easily adopted more broadly, thereby improving the quality of lit spaces and the occupant experience while reducing energy consumption.

Xicato is enabling new applications and giving users more product and vendor choice by making its firmware available to third-party device manufacturers for incorporation into their products. For example, third parties are using Xicato firmware in devices that allow Bluetooth to control legacy 0-10V drivers, DALI drivers, RGBW tape, beam controllers, shade controllers, incandescent lighting, and color changing light sources.

What role do you see Bluetooth playing in emerging markets like smart building, smart industry, smart city, and smart home?

We see Bluetooth playing a key role in the IoT, coexisting with and supplanting other technologies not only for lighting control but also for HVAC, security, asset management and tracking, and location-based services, such as wayfinding and information delivery.

Interoperability is clearly a significant factor. Can you tell us more about why it is so critical for your projects?

Our commitment to interoperability can be seen through our contributions to the Bluetooth Mesh Working Group, and we were thrilled to be recognized for our part in the development of the Bluetooth mesh networking specifications. We have also opened our gateway API to allow interoperability with legacy AV and BMS systems. This has been a key requirement in many of our projects, and we are now interoperating with ETC, Pharos, Medialon, LumiFi, and Extron, among others, at various sites.

Discover how recent innovations in Bluetooth technology are redefining the smart building.

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