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Requirements of Lighting technology in the Internet of Things (IoT)

Associations and Standards Overview

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new challenge for many industries. Smart devices with their own intelligence are pushing user-based communication via PCs into the background. Sensors, switches and luminaires will also be interacting with each other in future in smart systems. The IoT provides an opportunity for open communication beyond service boundaries and without the need for gateways, but it does require relevant standards. As part of the Zumtobel Group, Tridonic is actively involved in various committees that are currently developing these standards.

TCP/IP and ISO/OSI-/7 layer model

The ISO/OSI layer model and IP protocols, of which the TCP/IP protocol is the most well-known, serve as reference models for uniform standards, languages and protocols. They describe which requirements have to be met so that network components from different manufacturers can communicate with one another. Network communication in general is described by the more detailed ISO/OSI reference model, where OSI stands for Open System Interconnection.

The language of the Internet is TCP/IP. TCP – the Transmission Control Protocol – chops up data into data packets and adds the recipient's address so that the packets can be reassembled in the correct sequence at the destination. IP – the Internet Protocol – ensures that a data packet finds the right recipient, in other words the right IP address. TCP/IP enables data to be exchanged across all networks because the protocols are non-proprietary and work on any system configuration.

TCP/IP and the ISO/OSI layer model divide complex tasks such as secure data transfer between different network users into subtasks and assign each subtask to a particular layer. In each layer the subtasks are resolved separately and the results are passed on to the next layer via defined interfaces. Each layer serves the one above it and is served by the one below it. Network protocols based on the layer model offer a high degree of flexibility and adaptability.

Thanks to simple connection via IP addresses the number of network devices can, for example, be extended at any time and complex systems can be easily adapted to new requirements. Smart devices such as sensors will then perform their tasks in the background, not requiring the user's attention, and providing a better service, a higher degree of security and convenience, and greater energy efficiency in all areas of life.

IPv6 Internet Protocol

A powerful communication network is required for devices to communicate with each other and with the Cloud because each device is assigned a separate IP address. IPv6 is used as the standard network protocol, replacing IPv4 with its 4 billion addresses which are no longer enough for the increasing number of Internet users. IPv6 transmits data packets, addresses network nodes and stations, and transfers data packets between subnetworks. With these tasks IPv6 is assigned to Layer 3 of the OSI layer model. Essentially, the purpose of this Internet Protocol is to transmit data packets from one system to another via various networks (routing).

IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is an international community of network designers, professional users and manufacturers which is open to all companies and individuals. The standards used for the Internet have been developed here for decades. The IETF is divided into ten groups which in turn contain different subgroups: applications, Internet services, IP Next Generation (IPnG), network management, operation, routing, security, transport services and user services. Tridonic is involved in this task force to apply its more than 20 years of experience in digital light management, and, together with the other participants, create the basis for secure application of IP technologies in the lighting sector.

Thread Group

Established in October 2014 for the connected house, the non-commercial Thread Group aims to provide a simple means by which a large number of devices can be connected with one another and with the Cloud. The Thread protocol is based on IPv6 and uses IEEE 802.15.4 for mesh networks with low energy consumption, whereby IEEE 802.15.4 describes a transmission protocol for wireless personal area networks (WPANs). More than 250 smart devices can be connected via the Thread protocol. Lamps and luminaires can also form a freely scalable mesh network in this way. Mesh networks consist of end devices, Thread routers, leaders (decision-making components) and border routers. All devices can be addressed through their IPv6 address and a short home network address. Like ZigBee, the Thread protocol covers the network and transport layers in the OSI model. External devices such as smartphones can access the Thread network via the border routers, and take over router or end device functions themselves. Once again, Tridonic is actively involved in further developing standards for professional applications, contributing to connected lighting of the future.

Fairhair Alliance

The vision of the Fairhair Alliance is to pave the way to the Internet of Things on a common network infrastructure for building automation and lighting control systems. This makes it necessary to define this common network infrastructure and to ensure interoperability for common network services between building automation and lighting control systems. The standards of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Thread Group form the basis for the network infrastructure. The aim of the Fairhair Alliance is to combine the various protocols for lighting and building automation and to transfer them to the IoT. It closely collaborates with known standards and specifications such as BACnet, KNX and ZigBee, ensuring that building automation and professional lighting can reliably and securely perform all tasks in future. IPv6 is used as the standard network protocol. In the long-term, the Fairhair Alliance wants to develop solutions for a common IP-based, cost-effective and secure network infrastructure which can be the basis for interoperable systems in building automation and lighting control.


The Connected Lighting Alliance (TCLA), a non-profit organisation of leading companies in the lighting industry, aims to promote the worldwide introduction and development of wireless lighting solutions using open standards. To do this, TCLA identifies and recommends suitable standards which meet the requirements of the lighting industry. Focusing on open standards should help make the products of participating companies as compatible as possible. The consortium is open to any interested companies that share the objectives of this interest group. TCLA provides an ideal environment for Tridonic to develop and communicate the requirements to the next generation of light management together with other companies in the lighting sector.

To exploit the potential of connected lighting for the Internet of Things as effectively as possible Tridonic is playing an active role on the above committees and is also forming strong partnerships with leading luminaire manufacturers, system integrators, software companies and Cloud providers. Jens Herter, coordinator for alliances and standardisation at Tridonic, explains: “In the lighting sector luminaires have to be migrated to an open system with an almost infinite number of addresses. This presents completely new challenges for the entire lighting industry. How can luminaires be selected, localised and grouped in this open system without any special IT know-how? Our extensive experience from the DALI world may help to accurately define the special requirements that lighting has to meet.”

The IoT will provide all network devices with a simpler means of exchanging data and allow lighting components to be integrated in complex building management systems.

Press contact:

Markus Rademacher

Markus Rademacher

Tridonic GmbH & Co KG
Färbergasse 15
6851 Dornbirn, Austria

Tel. +43 5572 395-45236
Mobile +43 664 80892 6313