June 29, 2022

DALI adds network support, Zigbee Alliance becomes CSA

Suddenly there is a lot going on in connected lighting and it seems to be driven by the realization that a fragmented connectivity landscape is simply not the path to a profitable future for semi-profitable lighting manufacturers. conductors (SSL) selling network lighting controls. The DALI Alliance is once again seeking to expand the type of networks on which the DALI protocol can operate with the launch of the DALI + initiative. Meanwhile, the Zigbee Alliance has evolved into the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) and the CHIP project is now called Matter as the Zigbee Group moves towards a grid independent future.


The Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) Alliance, or what was previously known as the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA), is taking further steps to extend the reach of the DALI protocol through the DALI + program. Just a few weeks ago, the standards organization announced the completion of the planned gateway specifications to link DALI networks with Bluetooth Mesh or Zigbee. DALI will now begin the process of developing specifications for DALI protocols to flow natively over other wired and wireless networks.

The first target is DALI on the Thread OS and network stack and Internet Protocol (IP) networks such as 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Network) wireless network. The 6LoWPAN network stack is based on the same IEEE802.15.4 wireless meshed physical layer (PHY) that often underpins Zigbee.

The subtle difference between the DALI + concept and gateways is in the details of the implementation. In, say, a Bluetooth to DALI gateway, the Bluetooth protocols would be translated to DALI protocols in the gateway. In a DALI + implementation, DALI protocols will flow transparently from end to end. DALI does not even refer to the underlying wired or wireless communication platform as a network, but rather as a wireless operator, using terminology from the mobile cellular world.

“Following the publication of our wireless gateway to DALI specifications last month, the introduction of DALI + ushers in a new era of seamless, industry-standardized lighting control,” said Paul Drosihn, Managing Director of DALI Alliance. “DALI + extends choice, flexibility and creative freedom for lighting designers and specifiers by supporting the development of wired, wireless and IP systems, using DALI everywhere. “

Zigbee’s revised mission

Moving on to the Zigbee Alliance, the organization is huge and, after two decades of development, well established with many automated systems ranging from factories to connected lighting in the home. But Zigbee’s network and transport layers have fallen into disuse as many organizations turn to IP networks where nodes are directly addressable over the Internet. Additionally, Zigbee has long separated its upper layers which include application-specific commands and protocols, for example, focused on lighting, HVAC, or other systems.

Presumably, the CSA moniker will more accurately reflect the openness and inclusiveness of the evolving world of Zigbee. The organization also renamed the Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) Matter initiative. “This is a historic year for the alliance as our growth and efforts expand with the demand for smart connectivity for homes and buildings,” said Tobin Richardson, CSA President and CEO. “Now is the perfect time to both unveil our new brand, position the alliance as the home for collaboration and IoT standards development with our members, and launch these trusted brands recognizable by the market we collectively serve.” . “

The material will serve as a mark of interoperability for consumers. Any connected device (also referred to as an object or node) that carries a Matter certification will be guaranteed to work interoperably over CSA approved IP networks and protocols.

While neither the DALI nor the CSA announcements directly address the fragmented landscape of connected lighting, both offer the way forward for greater interoperability and a move towards a plug-and-play future. Additionally, both will support the concept of combined wired and wireless network installations that are unavoidable in retrofit scenarios.

Editor-in-chief of LED magazine MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned tech journalist who has focused specifically on the LED and lighting industry for the past decade.

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