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Software-controlled lighting

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Start-up Digital Lumens has developed a commercial light fixture that is smarter than your average LED (light-emitting diode). CNET visited the company in Boston late last week to get a closer look.

The fixture is designed specifically for warehouses and manufacturing facilities where either HID (high-intensity discharge), metal halide, or florescent lamps are used. This fixture consumes about 160 watts, compared to 400 watts for a metal halide light. To improve efficiency further, there is an embedded processor and wireless networking module. The on-board computing power means lights can be scheduled and managed for big gains in efficiency and a payback of two years. There is also an occupancy sensor (white square on the bottom half), but the platform allows for other sensors to be plugged into it.

Caption by / Photo by Martin LaMonica/CNET

A side-by-side comparison of an LED light on the right and HID light on the left at a warehouse facility operated by Americold. The commercial lighting industry is very large, but the company is looking at other vertical industries to get into. For example, its platform could collect sensor information, such as aisle traffic in stores or air quality in hospitals, and feed it to a central point.

Caption by / Photo by Digital Lumens

A screenshot of the Light Rules software for managing lighting fixtures and schedules. Each color in this graphic represents a different room. Having a central way to manage lights gives facility managers more information to work with to optimize efficiency and lets them quantify any efficiency gained.

Caption by / Photo by Digital Lumens

One of the advantages of LED lighting is that it's cooler than other light technologies, which can make a significant difference on the air cooling for a building. But LEDs still require cooling to ensure the long life of LEDs. Here is a shot of the aluminum heat sinks behind the LED lights sources on the Digital Lumens fixture.

Caption by / Photo by Martin LaMonica/CNET

LEDs lights are well-suited for lighting aisles in commercial buildings because they can be directed, dimmed, and turned on and off many times without degrading the life of the bulbs. This shot shows how the light bars can be aimed.

Caption by / Photo by Martin LaMonica/CNET
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