Last month, I mentioned how “the IoT” (Internet of Things) is changing our lives — professionally as well as personally. With smartphones and tablets becoming consumers’ control panel of choice, it’s more important than ever for lighting folks to stay abreast of the latest developments in home automation. If you are selling any form of lighting controls, you must make yourself hyper-aware of which systems are compatible with the other devices and control systems your customers have at home already. For example, products using Z-Wave protocol cannot easily “talk” to those relying on Zigbee. And Bluetooth isn’t the best choice for pairing more than a few devices (but it’s great if you only need to sync your smartphone to your car or radio). The customer is going to look to you for help, and you will win their loyalty if you are knowledgeable about these systems — that doesn’t mean you need to have extensive technical know-how, just be well-versed on the compatibility of the products you sell.
Need more proof that wireless technology is going to be huge in lighting? Last month, IKEA announced a line of “wireless charging home furnishings” – which includes table lamps and occasional tables – that would be available in Europe and North America in mid-April.
The furniture relies on Qi, the global wireless charging standard from the Wireless Power Consortium. Apparently Qi is the most widely deployed wireless power standard and is available in 3,000 hotels, restaurants, airports, and public locations worldwide. (There are more than 80 Qi-enabled smartphones, 15 models of Qi-enabled cars, and scores of Qi mobile accessories in the market today.)
“Our belief is that mobile phones are vital parts to people’s lives at home and their desire to stay connected, and Qi addresses an unmet need to keep devices powered,” said Bjorn Block, Range Manager for Lighting and Wireless Charging at IKEA. “As a member of WPC, we value the access to the leading and most advanced global standard for wireless charging.”
With both High Point Market and Lightfair International occurring at this time of year, I expect that both shows will be offering more products available for consumers that connect wirelessly with our phones and homes. Your customers are going to be asking you about furniture and lamps with this type of capability. Be prepared; this is just the tip of the iceberg. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org