Smart lighting revitalizes LED driver IC development
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  • Component makers direct efforts toward integration to enhance product features while realizing BOM savings.

    Smart lighting is the next frontier for LED driver ICs, which are going to play a vital role in helping bulb manufacturers improve product performance and life span while lowering costs. For this, component suppliers such as Dialog Semiconductor plc are actively pursuing Ledotron-based solutions. Ledotron (IEC 62756-1) is the latest digital dimming standard.

    Intelligent illumination encompasses solid state lighting or SSL control, which also includes various modes of wired digital dimming via the AC supply line. Toggle-switch brightness adjustment is an example. The technology extends to wireless control using Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi. In addition to bulb brightness, smart lighting systems can also support advanced features such as LED color mixing for warm dimming and mood lighting.

    As with any emerging market, intelligent lighting technology kicked off with a limited number of high-priced niche solutions. The Philips HUE Personal Wireless Lighting is probably the most well-known and publicized one. The initial offerings were largely based on off-the-shelf components, according to Scott Brown, marketing divisional director of Dialog Semiconductor’s power conversion business group. “However, as the LED smart lighting market takes off, we are beginning to see LED driver ICs, which are now tailored to the specific requirements of this segment,” said Brown. “These new ICs continue to integrate more functions in chips, helping SSL manufacturers drive down costs and bring smart lighting to mass consumer price levels quickly.”

    Dialog Semiconductor has joined hands with LED lighting solutions provider Sengled to fast-track the availability of flexible and intelligent driver ICs for intelligent lighting applications. The strategic collaboration will entail the exchange of R&D data, joint development of new product concepts and prototype bulbs, common system level tests and qualification processes for new solutions. “Smart lighting is one of the most important growth segments in LED lighting, with digital dimming and wireless control as the next major steps in creating innovative products,” said Johnson Shen, founder and president of Sengled.

    Dialog Semiconductor is proactive in the Ledotron standard as well. The technology overcomes the limitations and system performance degradation associated with traditional phase cut dimmers. It combines manual dimmer control with easy connection to the Internet of Things, and to any building and home automation system. The dimmer and lamps are linked via baseband data modulation around the zero crossings of the AC mains voltage. Dialog Semiconductor has announced the iW6401 chip. Mark Tyndall, the company’s corporate development and strategy vice president and power conversion business group general manager, said the release will be the world’s first LED driver to support the new Ledotron dimming standard. 

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