British LED specialist teams with IBM Watson for IoT
The dance of partners getting together from the digital lighting industry and the information technology world is getting livelier all the time. The latest example: British LED specialist PhotonStar has spun its relationship with IBM into a full-fledged Internet of Things (IoT) collaboration.
PhotonStar said it demonstrated its Halcyon intelligent lighting technology working with IBM’s Watson IoT Cloud system, at IBM’s new global Watson IoT headquarters in Munich (pictured).
The Highlight Towers at Mies-van-der-Rohe-Straße 6 in Munich, Germany will serve as the global headquarters for IBM’s new Watson IoT unit, as well as the company’s first European Watson innovation super center. The center represents IBM’s largest investment in Europe in more than two decades. (Photo copyright: Rainer Viertlböck for IBM, sourced from Flickr.)
Watson is IBM’s business unit that sells cloud computing and Big Data services using the company’s Watson supercomputer. The computer is renowned for having beaten former Jeopardy! champions on the US television game show. IBM is harnessing it to the IoT — including to data-gathering networked LED lights — to help businesses decipher mountains of information from disparate sources and make quick and intelligent decisions, a process sometimes referred to as cognitive computing.
In March IBM said it would invest $3 billion in a new IoT division over the next four years.
PhotonStar’s Halcyon includes software and hardware geared around data collection, circadian rhythm support, and energy-saving applications. The Romsey, UK-based company had teamed with IBM nearly a year ago around IBM’s Bluemix cloud computing service, and has now stepped up the partnership to specifically support the IoT.
“The power of the IBM Watson IoT team and cognitive computing will better equip our business to uncover opportunity and find new avenues of growth,” said PhotonStar CEO James McKenzie. “We will also be better positioned to fulfill client requirements for innovative, end- to-end solutions for the commercial built environment as part of the IBM Partner ecosystem.”
In addition to demonstrating Halcyon at Watson IoT headquarters in Munich, PhotonStar has integrated it into IBM’s mobile and IoT lab at IBM’s Hursley laboratory in Hampshire, UK, where IBM hosts clients interested in deploying IoT and cloud computing services.
PhotonStar also joined IBM’s PartnerWorld program under which PhotonStar and IBM will jointly develop IoT products and services.
IBM Internet of Things vice president Bret Greenstein said the combination of the IoT and smart lighting “ has tremendous opportunity for innovation, especially in the area of buildings retrofit,” adding that it “offers up a whole new world of IoT use cases and possibilities.”
The PhotonStar IBM hookup comes soon after lighting giant Philips linked arms with IT stalwart Cisco to offer IoT and Power over Ethernet (PoE) services. Likewise, small LED specialists such as Carlsbad, CA-based NuLEDs have worked with Cisco to install PoE and data-centric lighting at schools and offices. Gooee, a lighting-focused IT startup, has begun licensing technology to different LED lamp and luminaire manufacturers. Many LED lamp makers have also tied their wares into Google’s Nest home automation product.
The gyration of lighting and IT companies has also featured changing partners. For instance, lighting powerhouse GE recently hired away IBM Watson vice president of solutions Jeff Gordon and named him chief digital officer of Current, GE’s data-oriented energy division that includes LED lighting.