Welcome to episode thirty two of the Technology for Good hangout. In this week’s episode we had SAP‘s Sameer Patel as the guest on our show. Sameer and I are members of the Enterprise Irregulars group – a loose group of analysts and vendors with an interest in enterprise software. Previous Enterprise Irregulars who have guested on the show include David Terrar, Craig Cmehil, and Jon Reed.
There was a problem which wasn’t apparent to us during the show and that was that the video from my side never showed up in the recording. I suspect that’s because I was using a beta version of Chrome, but anyway, the audio, and Sameer’s video feed was recorded, so all’s well.
This week we didn’t get through all the stories we had lined up, ‘cos we had such a good discussion around the ones we did manage to fit in!
a WiFi enabled, multi-color, energy efficient LED light bulb that you control with your iPhone or Android
This sounded great. Energy efficient, LED bulbs which could change colour to match/create moods, and which you could control from your Smartphone? Where do I sign up? Well, I signed up on the Kickstarter page, obviously.
This morning, the Lifx bulbs I bought were delivered, so I decided to put them to the test.
The photo at the top of this post is of a lamp in my home powered by a 12W Philips CFL bulb. I swapped out the CFL for the Lifx LED bulb and I was immediately impressed with how quickly it lit up and how bright it is.
Here’s a comparison of the same lamp with first the CFL bulb, and then the Lifx LED bulb:
The photos were taken with identical camera settings* but look different due to the different brightness of the lights, and the different colour of their light. The lamp on the left is being lit by the Philips 12W CFL bulb, while the lamp on the right is being lit by the Lifx 17W LED wifi connected bulb.
A few comments in favour of the LED light –
While it may look like the CFL bulb is brighter, in fact, that’s because most of its light is aimed downwards, while the LED bulb’s light is beamed upwards away from the table. In fact, the LED bulb is considerably brighter
While not obvious from these photos, the LED bulb lights up instantaneously, whereas the CFL takes a good minute to come to full brightness
The CFL is one colour, but the LED is whatever colour you set it to and
The CFL can be controlled from its Smartphone app over wifi
On the other hand –
The LED bulb is much bigger and heavier than the CFL bulb (this may, or may not be an issue for you)
The LED bulb generates a LOT of heat
The LED bulb, when turned off by the app, still consumes 2.7W of electricity (maintaining wifi so it can be turned on again presumably). To avoid this, it needs to be physically turned off at the switch.
The LED bulb is expensive ($89 in the Lifx store) and
Unfortunately the Lifx bulb is not remotely accessible – you need to be connected to wifi to turn it on or off, so if you’re out and realise you’ve forgotten to turn your lights off, there’s no way to turn them off from your smartphone (unless the very cool Revolv app starts to support Lifx bulbs).
Bottom line – the Lifx bulb is a nice little bulb and a great job by its developers for a v1.0 of their first product. Having said that, its main competitor seems to be the Philips Hue series of wifi connectable, colour variable, smartphone controllable bulbs, and they’re for sale on Amazon.com for $59.97 which is far cheaper than the Lifx at $89. Also, Revolv support the Hue series of bulbs, so it is likely they are remotely controllable. Given that, unless Lifx addresses particularly the cost issue, I’d have to advise anyone interested in Internet of Things connected lighting to look at the Philips solution instead. If I get my hands on the Philips bulbs, I’ll review them here subsequently.
One final note, the Philips CFL bulb rated at 12W was actually drawing 13.5W, while the Lifx bulb rated at 17W was drawing between 17W and 18W.
*Both photos were taken with the camera on full manual mode with shutter speed at 50, ISO at 200, aperture at 4.5, and white balance set for fluorescent light (4000k approx).
At these events SAP shared some of its carbon reduction policies and strategies.
According to SAP Chief Sustainability Officer Peter Graf, the greatest bang for buck SAP is achieving comes from the deployment of telepresence suites. With video conferencing technologies SAP is saving €655 per ton of CO2 saved. This is hardly surprising given Cisco themselves claim to have saved $790m in travel expenditure from their telepresence deployments!
Other initiatives SAP mentioned were the installation of 650 solar panels on the roof of building 2 which provides for around 5-6% of SAP’s Palo Alto energy needs. This means that on sunny days, the SAP Palo Alto data centre can go completely off-grid. The power from the solar panels is not converted to AC at any point – instead it is fed directly into the data centre as DC – thereby avoiding the normal losses incurred in the conversion from DC->AC->DC for computer equipment. Partnerships with OSISoft and Sentilla ensure that their data centre runs at optimum efficiency.
SAP also rolled out 337 LED lighting systems. These replaced fluorescent lighting tubes and because the replacement LED lights are extremely long-life, as well as low energy, there are savings on maintenance as well as electricity consumption.
SAP has placed 16 Coulomb level two electric vehicle charging stations around the car parks in its facility. These will allow employees who purchase electric vehicles to charge their cars free of charge (no pun!) while they are at work. SAP has committed to going guarantor on leases for any employees who plan to purchase electric vehicles. We were told to watch out for a big announcement from SAP in January in the electric vehicle space!
Photo of before and after installation of Digital Lumens lighting system in Maines Paper & Food Service courtesy of Digital Lumens.
Digital Lumens reduced the cost of lighting for their first customer by 87%.
Digital Lumens specialise in high-bay lighting for warehouses, cold storage facilities, and manufacturing plants. This is a mostly invisible but very large segment. It is estimated that in the US alone, $5bn worth of lighting is sold into the supply chain sector every year.
Mike Feinstein, Digital Lumens’ VP of Sales and Marketing, told me on a recent call that they are very much a start-up company and that they have had their first revenues in this calendar year.
In a recent press release Digital Lumens reported that their first large-scale customer, Maines Paper & Food Service has reduced their energy requirements for lighting by 87% since installing the Digital Lumens lighting system. Up until now, Maines 500,000 sq ft (46,450 sq meters) warehouse was lit using sodium lights 24 x 7 and lighting costs made up around 20% of Maines total energy spend.
With the new system Maines expects to save 1,726,108kWh per year which, at a cost of US$0.0958 per kWh for industrial customers in New York, amounts to a $ saving of just over $165,000 per annum. This saving, combined with an incentive provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), means that Maines will recoup the cost of this project in less than a year!
I was fascinated with this story so I spoke to Pat DeOrdio, the VP of Operations for Maines.
Pat told me that Maines were doing a full analysis of their lighting to see how “we could reduce our kW off the grid and help with our Green initiatives” when they came across the Digital Lumens solution.
For Pat, what was particularly compelling about the intelligent lighting system was the management software which came with it
“With Digital Lumen’s lights, every one of them is like a little computer. It has its own IP address so we are able to control that lighting level – if we want to have the light turn off in 30 seconds, 60 seconds or when nobody’s in the aisle, you know, why do you want it lit? It gives us the ability to control the light level from a computer and it reduces our energy cost”
Tom Raftery – Global VP, Futurist, and Innovation Evangelist for SAP, inspirational keynote speaker, and global influencer's take on how digitization and innovation are creatively disrupting our world