December 2013

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EMAIL INTERVIEW – Siavash Vojdani and Ken Sinclair

Siavash Vojdani Ph.D, President, Unity Integration

Siavash Vojdani has over 35 years experience in the high tech industry with focus on renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency in buildings.  He is the cofounder of Inteluma Energy Systems and up to very recently he managed the engineering team as the CTO of the company, developing a novel intelligent lighting system for commercial and industrial buildings.  He has lived and worked for many years in Europe, North America and Asia in a variety of executive positions and holds a PH.D. in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. He can be contacted at

LED Intelligent Lighting

I think as a minimum an intelligent lighting system, apart from showing significant energy savings compared to conventional lighting, should have occupancy and ambient light level sensors and provide readily programmable scheduling and zoning.

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SinclairHow would you define intelligent lighting?

Vojdani:  A  broad category of lighting installations starting from room based lighting with simple motion detection control to a highly complex software controlled lighting are referred to as Intelligent Lighting Systems. I think as a minimum an intelligent lighting system apart from showing significant energy savings compared to conventional lighting should have occupancy and ambient light level sensors and provide readily programmable scheduling and zoning.

SinclairWhy does LED lend itself so well to intelligent lighting?

Vojdani:  Intelligent lighting is all about digital control. And LED technology lends itself well to digital control. They can easily be networked, turned/on/off/dimmed or change color individually or as a group. They can be zoned, regrouped, scheduled as required through software control. More on this can be found in my recent article in September/October issue of Electrical Line Magazine entitled “Networked Intelligent Systems for the LED Lighting Industry”.      

SinclairCan one quantify energy savings in lighting due to intelligent control?

Vojdani:  There have been a number of case studies on this. The problem is that each case depending on the building, the usage and the level of intelligent control results in a different figure for saving. I would estimate that the best average lighting energy savings  potential from Intelligent lighting controls is around 40%. Such a system is normally a networked system with each light being individually addressable. The system has  photo sensors for day light harvesting , motion control sensors, computer based controls  for scheduling and zoning etc.

SinclairWhat is the additional cost of adding intelligent control to lights?

Vojdani:  Again this is difficult to answer as each case is different. My estimate currently ranges from 10 to 30% additional cost when one compares an intelligent lighting system with a conventional lighting with no controls.  With more LED fixtures with embedded intelligent control coming to the market the costs are expected to fall sharply.

SinclairWhat is the industry trend in Intelligent lighting control?

Vojdani:  A couple of years ago the technology topics of interest in the LED lighting industry were about reliability, long life, efficiency (lumen output/watt)  etc. Recently  all the talk is about controlling light levels, hue, networking of lights, personalization of lights etc. With the increasingly more different types of addressable LEDs coming to the market with wireless connectivity, intelligent lights can be networked and controlled through tablets and mobile phones over the internet which is the common trend towards the so called “internet of things".

[an error occurred while processing this directive]SinclairGiven the big players like Philips, Osram, GE, the market size and the keen interest in LED lighting, what roles can small start ups play?

Vojdani:  Well, this is a classical question that is true with any new technology. I often compare the current take off of intelligent lighting to the rapid rise of start ups in automation fields with the advent of microprocessors in the early 70’s.  It is well known that new ideas which lead to new innovations often come out of small companies even though the big companies at the end often benefit most from it. I think the technology of intelligent control of lighting is primarily a software issue that deals with the movement of packets of data, and as such company size is not the critical issue. The intelligent lighting control is just beginning to get into the main stream, and there is still some way to go before the market is firmly established.  The potential market as well as the variety of applications is huge and there is room for every type of company in this area.

SinclairWhat is next for you?

Vojdani:  My colleagues define me as a mixture of scientist, businessman and international marketer. My passion lies with and I tremendously enjoy getting involved in building teams in high tech startups. So I am waiting for the next challenge.


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