LEDSENSE Gives Lights a Brain

LONGMONT, CO—Terralux, a designer and manufacturer of LED lighting and building intelligence solutions based here, has given hotel lighting systems what the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz was searching for as he ambled down the Yellow Brick Road—a brain.

The company has come up with LEDSENSE, an LED retrofit with cloud-based technology that can monitor hotel operations so that an air conditioner/heating unit will turn on when a guestroom or public area gets too hot or cold; lights will brighten when guests enter a room, and dim or turn off when they leave; and an alert will be sent to the engineering department if there is the smell of what could be a harmful gas being emitted into the air. It could even trigger an alarm whenever a foul odor is being detected in the bathroom.

Matt Sallee, Terralux’s director of strategic marketing, noted LEDSENSE is all about the microprocessors in the LED lamps. “What we are doing with LEDSENSE that’s unique is we’re taking the architecture of our LED lamps where they are turning high voltage into low voltage, and then doing some processing. There’s a microprocessor in the light itself, and we are actually using it to add other functions into the lights,” he said of the rather nascent technology that his company began actively developing 24 months ago. “So, the lights can now become part of the intelligence network inside a building. You can hang sensors, controls, wireless and other things off the lights, and you can use that information to really optimize the building for the occupants. You can send temperature and humidity signals to the HVAC system, and you can look at VOC [volatile organic compound]and carbon dioxide data in hallways and meeting rooms; if those levels get too high, you can tell the handling system to turn on automatically. You can even engage with the utilities fully electronically and help them expand the smart grid, where the lights just become an extension of the utility.

“For example, in California, buildings use a lot of wind and solar energy, so grid reliability is really difficult to maintain there. Having the ability to just tweak the lights a little bit inside buildings—like 5% to 15%, an amount that nobody will notice—gives the building operators a lot more reliability when they go into a hot summer day where the grid has all of the demands placed on it. There are a lot of really cool aspects that go way beyond lighting that we can integrate because we’ve got some processing power and some intelligence in the lights.”

The LEDSENSE solution will initially consist of the LEDSENSE gateway and the LEDSENSE Link, what Terralux considers the “engine of LEDSENSE,” according to Sallee, who added, “Those two products together will allow a building to connect any light into a online portal and dashboard that it can get more information from. On top of the that, the LEDSENSE link is where it can hang different sensors and control options.”

While it has yet to be installed within a hotel—“We have chatted with a few hotels, but those deals are kind of early in the making,” Sallee noted—the Terralux executive feels that the hospitality industry will catch on soon, especially since enhancement of the technology is an on-going process.

“We are still actively developing, and we will be rolling out the major pieces over the summer and fall.  Then, we will have a number of different add-on deployments over the next 12 to 18 months,” he said. “It’s still really early in the development of the product, but I really think it’s the future of where lighting can go, especially as buildings look to save more energy and perform better for their guests. For hotels especially, there are so many opportunities to provide a more unique and customized experience to the guest just by optimizing the spaces that they are in.”

—Adam Perkowsky