In May 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and the DALI Alliance announced a joint effort to specify a standardized gateway for D4i certified intelligent luminaires to be provisioned, managed, and controlled on a Bluetooth® Mesh lighting control network. Today, the DALI Alliance released that specification. Providing valuable energy efficiencies and a more comfortable and productive experience for occupants, the Bluetooth Mesh to DALI Gateway will remove one of the biggest barriers to realizing the true potential of IoT lighting. These sensor-rich lighting systems will also allow data to flow freely to other building management systems, such as HVAC and security, allowing more efficient operation of those systems.

“Combining Bluetooth Mesh with DALI is a natural choice for the commercial lighting industry. The combination enables sensor-rich lighting systems and will deliver powerful new IoT capabilities to building managers. This will include automated light-level and color control, advanced luminaire performance monitoring including energy usage and predictive maintenance, as well as enhanced services such as asset tracking and indoor navigation.” 
– Paul Drosihn, DALI Alliance General Manager

Lighting Control in Commercial Settings

Commercial connected lighting systems have long held the promise of providing building managers with advanced lighting controls that can deliver significant energy savings and an improved occupant experience, unlocking the full value of a building. Bluetooth® Mesh networking has emerged as the scalable and reliable solution for commercial lighting control that can turn that promise into reality.

As the appetite for lighting control in commercial settings increases, so too does the demand for data-driven smart building services that bring benefits far beyond illumination. The ubiquity of lighting provides the ideal foundation for an intelligent building. In addition to providing valuable energy efficiencies and a more comfortable and productive experience for occupants, lighting control systems can serve as a central nervous system for a building and enable more efficient operation of other building systems, including HVAC and security. Lighting infrastructures can also establish a platform that enables advanced building services, such as indoor navigation and asset tracking.

In this article recently published by the DALI Alliance, they identify the importance of harnessing sensor-rich lighting systems and standardized interfaces so that building managers will benefit from new IoT capabilities, from automated light-level and color control to advanced luminaire performance monitoring that supports efficient energy usage, predictive maintenance, and enhanced services like asset tracking and indoor navigation. “There is a clear need to constantly enhance DALI with emerging capabilities to support the relevance and growing adoption of the protocol in an IoT world. Here, we reveal more details of some much-anticipated new capabilities, which enable us to bring together the benefits of DALI lighting control and wireless networking.”

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The Importance of Standardization

To fully realize this vision and for the commercial connected lighting market to reach mass adoption, standards must be in place to ensure all lighting system components can interoperate smoothly. The two most important components of any commercial connected lighting system are the luminaires and the lighting control network. The collaboration between the Bluetooth SIG and the DALI Alliance brings together the trade association that oversees Bluetooth® technology, the leading IoT standard for wireless lighting control networks, and the organization responsible for the leading IoT standard for intelligent luminaires. The result of that collaboration, the Bluetooth Mesh to DALI Gateway Specification, establishes a bridge between the lighting controls and the sensor-rich luminaires that enables the movement and analysis of building operations data to achieve valuable energy savings, lower maintenance costs, and enhanced services for building managers.

Interoperability between lighting controls and intelligent luminaires benefits everyone on the value chain, from manufacturers to end users. The market will benefit from a wider selection of interoperable intelligent lighting components that will help accelerate the adoption of intelligent, IoT-enabled lighting systems in retrofit and new-build environments.

According to a recently released article by Szymon Slupik, CTO and co-founder at Silvair, Bluetooth® distributed control architecture perfectly matches the DALI application controller concept. “It is not often that you see independent architectures that match and extend each other so well,” said Slupik. “The technology match, together with the close collaboration between the Bluetooth SIG and DiiA, means that the market will benefit from a wider selection of interoperable intelligent lighting components. This, in turn, accelerates the adoption of intelligent, IoT-enabled lighting systems in retrofit and new-build environments. Ultimately, this leads to energy savings and enhanced comfort and user experience, which everyone can afford.”

The collaboration between the Bluetooth SIG and DALI Alliance demonstrates the critical role that standardization plays in removing the barriers prohibiting wider adoption of commercial connected lighting. Standards have always been the catalysts for widespread market adoption. Without standardization, mass adoption remains out of reach. The collaboration will help ensure the development of devices from different manufacturers capable of working together to establish a global, interoperable ecosystem of lighting products, and will help ensure that Bluetooth Mesh, when paired with certified DALI-2 and D4i devices, remains the wireless lighting control technology of choice for the professional lighting industry.

“We are excited to support this collaboration between the Bluetooth SIG and DALI Alliance. Establishing a standard Bluetooth Mesh interface for D4i intelligent luminaries will open up industry opportunity and enable the deployment of even more advanced, interoperable IoT-enabled commercial lighting systems, while ensuring an equivalent light control behavior between both standards.” 
– Arnulf Rupp, Head of Standardization at OSRAM

The Momentum of Bluetooth® Mesh

A growing ecosystem of Bluetooth® commercial lighting products from leading vendors such as Delta Electronics, Fulham, Leedarson Lighting, McWong, Murata, OSRAM, Sylvania, Zumbtobel, and others is helping drive a 130% CAGR of annual shipments of Bluetooth enabled commercial lighting solutions by 2026. Large-scale implementations in warehouses, retail, horticulture, and commercial offices, including a near 4,000 node deployment in a 22-story office building in North America, offer proof of Bluetooth Mesh networking’s scalability and reliability in demanding commercial settings. The unique decentralized control architecture of Bluetooth Mesh distributes intelligence across the network and eliminates single points of failure, bringing the resiliency, performance, and ease of implementation needed by installers, building managers, and end users in commercial installations. In addition, unlike other low-power wireless mesh networking technologies, Bluetooth mesh is a complete, full-stack solution that defines everything from the low-level physical radio layer through the high-level application layer, enabling easier product development and greater levels of product interoperability.

The Future of Commercial Connected Lighting

The Bluetooth Mesh® to DALI Gateway Specification represents a key step in enabling lighting control systems to shift from a single-function solution to a platform that feeds building management systems and helps position intelligent lighting infrastructures as central to satisfying the growing demand for increased energy efficiency and improved occupant experience in sustainable, human-centric buildings.

To help streamline the delivery of products to market, the Bluetooth SIG and DALI Alliance are also working together to make it easier for vendors to complete both the Bluetooth product qualification and DALI-2 and D4i product certification processes necessary to ensure interoperability. More information regarding product qualification and certification is expected later this year.

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