Recently, I had a chance to speak with Stephen Zhou, McWong’s vice president, about how McWong is leveraging recent breakthroughs in Bluetooth® technology, such as Bluetooth mesh networking.

McWong is organizing a very early Bluetooth mesh lighting control project to publicly demonstrate genuine interoperability based on Bluetooth mesh networking technology. The 25,000-square-foot commercial project site incorporates a large warehouse and assembly area, private offices, open-plan areas, conference rooms, and training spaces, along with a daylight-filled employee lunch/social activity area.

According to Zhou, the initial phase of this multi-phase project serves as one of the first North American proof-of-concept installations to measure and assess the ease of deployment and commissioning of Bluetooth qualified mesh product solutions, particularly in a phased approach that deploys different stages at a time. “We’re beginning with a warehouse space,” notes Zhou, “because it is the area most in need of a retrofit but also, because it presents the most technical challenges and the most opportunities to explore Bluetooth interoperability.”

During our discussion, I had the opportunity to learn more about this unique project and explore topics including the importance of interoperability in lighting, the advantages of Bluetooth, potential cost savings, and additional benefits. Here are a few highlights from our conversation.

Q & A with Stephen Zhou

Who are the manufacturers that will participate in the installation?

Right now, we have Flex, Filamento, LinmoreLED, and LumEfficient participating as fixture manufacturers in the first phase of the retrofit, the warehouse, and product assembly area. Plus, Silvair is participating as the software interface provider.

We are also having conversations with quite a few other manufacturers and anticipate that others will be interested in participating in other phases of the demonstration.

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

Bluetooth® enables our products to really become future proof, in the sense that the hardware can be easily updated to incorporate future capabilities via Bluetooth connectivity. That capability, as well as the easy accessibility of the standard, being accessible by anyone carrying a smartphone, is quite appealing. Traditionally, lighting control commissioning has the reputation of being extremely difficult and time-consuming, so the ease of use is extremely important.

Interoperability is clearly a significant factor in this project, can you tell us more about why it is so critical?

True interoperability offers the ultimate in flexibility for the lighting designer, contractor, and facility professional. It enables them to undertake retrofit projects in phases, with reduced or phased capital costs, on a schedule that meets their needs. At the same time, they do not need to be concerned that the products they purchase today will not work with products they may procure two or five or even 10 years from now. This is very valuable in the current business environment.

What would the cost savings look like before and after installation? And what are the additional benefits?

This project, particularly in this first stage involving the warehouse and product assembly areas of the facility, is a retrofit from legacy light sources to LEDs controlled by Bluetooth controls. So, we have a savings component that represents the lighting upgrade and another savings component that represents the use of advanced controls.

It is premature to discuss specific cost savings as the installation has been operational for less than a quarter, although we do expect to document energy savings once the project has more operational data. Regarding other savings, there is a savings component related to the avoided labor cost resulting from not having to install low-voltage dimming wiring. There are also occupant productivity benefits, both from the point of view that occupants no longer have to enter and exit from a single location but can use one of multiple points of access and still have ample illumination. There is also improved safety benefits, as the lighting system is more responsive to worker and forklift movement throughout the warehouse during the workday.

What are some of the major market challenges? And how does Bluetooth help you meet them?

As with any technological advance, some of the most significant market or adoption challenges involve a lack of education about the new technology, what it actually is, how it works, what its limitations might be. Because most people have had some sort of exposure to Bluetooth® through wearables, smartphones, and the like, this challenge may not be as strong. However, there is still some strong perceptions in the design community and building industries about Bluetooth as a “consumer” technology so there is a lot of room for education.

What role do you see Bluetooth playing in the industrial/commercial world?

There are a lot of indications that the Bluetooth connectivity will facilitate several beyond lighting capabilities that would be valuable in the industrial/commercial world. For instance, mapping commercial spaces based on occupancy would be useful both for space utilization but also for emergency preparedness and disaster recovery. In transportation settings like airports and railway stations, some of the wayfinding and beacon applications are already being used. I think there are other applications still to be identified.

To learn more about how McWong is using new Bluetooth® technologies, check out this article: How McWong International is Harnessing the Power of Blue.

FEATURED DOWNLOAD

Bluetooth Mesh Networking: Paving the Way for Smart Lighting

Bluetooth mesh networking brings the multi-vendor interoperability, low power, and low latency pedigree of Bluetooth Low Energy to the world of commercial lighting. Discover how this innovative technology can turn wireless connectivity into a smart lighting wireless platform.

INSTANT DOWNLOAD

Revealed: New Trends Driving the Future of Bluetooth® Technology

Watch Chuck Sabin, Senior Director, Market Development for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG),…

The Bluetooth SIG and the DALI Alliance Remove a Big Barrier for Realizing IoT Lighting Potential

In May 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and the DALI Alliance announced…

Wireless Connectivity Options for IoT Applications - Commercial Lighting

Industry 4.0 is no longer a thing of the future. The term describes the…

Why Lighting Professionals Prefer Bluetooth Commercial Connected Lighting Over Wired Alternatives

Bluetooth® mesh continues to prove itself as the most effective and user-friendly technology for…

Bluetooth Mesh at Scale - A Case Study

This session includes a detailed overview of the largest Bluetooth mesh lighting control installation…

Smart Warehouse Lighting Retrofit

150,000 sq.ft warehouse with a primitive lighting system is retrofitted to a most modern…

Connected lighting success rests on interoperability and market clarity

HENRY WONG of the Bluetooth SIG brings attention to connected lighting barriers in commercial…

Bluetooth mesh integrated in LED fixtures serves 22-story Minnesota office building

EMC, Silvair, and McWong have partnered to retrofit a 470,317-sq. ft office building with…

Maximised Energy Savings With Smart Lighting

Lighting can account for up to a third of a commercial building’s energy consumption.…

2021 Bluetooth Market Update

Supported by updated forecasts from ABI Research and insights from several other analyst firms, the Bluetooth Market Update highlights the latest Bluetooth trends and forecasts.

Qualified Bluetooth Mesh - Unlocking the Value of the Building

Facilities managers are growing increasingly conscious that the buildings they manage need to be…

The Largest Bluetooth Mesh Lighting Control Installation in the World!

The project itself consisted of 3,685 Bluetooth mesh McWong TruBlu lighting controllers (installed in…

Understanding Reliability in Bluetooth® Technology

Download this detailed discussion of the issues and factors that impact the reliability of…

Bluetooth Mesh Networking Highlights and Features

This white paper provides an overview of the Bluetooth Mesh Profile and highlights some…

Building a Sensor-Driven Lighting Control System Based on Bluetooth® Mesh

A technical examination of which Bluetooth mesh models to use in different types of…

What is Bluetooth Mesh? | Tech Chats - with Cypress Semiconductor

Chris Anderson chats with Michael Shen of Cypress Semiconductor about Bluetooth mesh, covering a…

How to Deploy BlueZ on a Raspberry Pi Board as a Bluetooth Mesh Provisioner

This step-by-step study guide will teach you: How to rebuild the kernel on a…

2020 Bluetooth Market Update

Supported by updated forecasts from ABI Research and insights from several other analyst firms, the Bluetooth Market Update highlights the latest Bluetooth trends and forecasts.

How to Make Wearables Bluetooth Mesh Provisioners

Learn how to create applications for smartwatches and other platforms that can monitor and control nodes in a Bluetooth mesh network.

2019 Bluetooth Market Update

Supported by updated forecasts from ABI Research and insights from several other analyst firms, the Bluetooth Market Update highlights the latest Bluetooth trends and forecasts.

Lighting as a Platform

See how connected lighting systems are being used as a platform to enable advanced building services like wayfinding, asset tracking, and space utilization to improve the ROI of smart building investments.

An Introduction to the Bluetooth Mesh Proxy Function

Learn how to create applications for smartphones and other platforms which can monitor and control nodes in a Bluetooth mesh network.

Build a Smarter Building with Blue

See how Bluetooth increases reliability, reduces costs, and enhances your smart building ROI.

Overview – Bluetooth Mesh Networking

A quick overview outlining how Bluetooth mesh uniquely meets the reliability, scalability, and security requirements of commerical and industrial markets.