TI provides a building block of the IoT with Zigbee lighting development kit

October 16, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
A complete hardware and software kit aims to help LED lighting manufacturers move towards Internet of Things connections, adding control with remote or cloud connectivity

The Internet of Things, according to Texas Instruments' sector director of marketing Richard Kerslake, can be viewed as an evolution of connected objects; firstly discrete objects connected point-to-point without internet connectivity, then connected point-point via the internet, and finally as a series of intelligent and connected nodes all with internet access and the abiility to use cloud-based resources.

One of the sectors that has been proposed as an early model for such connectivity, implementing control and reporting, is lighting. As mesh networking (ZigBee, etc.) emerged, lighting – domestic, commercial and, especially, retail – was frequently cited as an area where connectivity could contribute to improving the user experience, and to increasing the scope for creative effects. Now, TI has moved to offer that flexibility plus internet connectivity.

According to Kerslake, “TT has all the blocks – microcontrollers, ZigBee, power control – and also higher-level functions in the IoT concept such as internet gateway reference designs.” He adds, “[You need command of] a wide variety of wired and wireless standards – TI has all of the standards used in the IoT.”

The ZigBee Light Link development kit is intended to simplify development and control of wirelessly connected LED lighting products. The kit includes a remote control and supports smartphone and tablet connectivity through gateways including Ninja Blocks , which are cloud-enabled computers based on the BeagleBone open-source computer platform hosting TI’s Sitara AM335x ARM processors. Through simplified control, users are able to dynamically configure colours, groups and scenes. With a simple connection to a cloud gateway, the new kit makes it easier to connect LED bulbs and other lighting products to the Internet of Things (IoT) using ZigBee networking.

For consumers, a ZigBee wirelessly connected lighting system delivers richer user interfaces and more flexible control on top of the basic on, off and dim operations. There is absolute flexibility to place and move switches and other controls anywhere in the home