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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Hackers crack Smart LED light bulbs
The BBC are reporting that the security of net-enabled LED light bulbs made by LIFX has been cracked by hackers posing as new light bulbs joining the network.  Similar security issues could affect many other household items associated with the booming "internet of things".


Security experts have demonstrated how easy it is to hack network-enabled LED light bulbs.
Context Security released details about how it was able to hack into the wi-fi network of one brand of network-enabled bulb, and control the lights remotely.

The LIFX light bulb, which is available to buy in the UK, has network connectivity to let people turn it on and off with their smartphones.

The firm behind the bulbs has since fixed the vulnerability.

Michael Jordon, research director at Context, explained how he was able to obtain the wi-fi username and password of the household the lights were connected to.

"We bought some light bulbs and examined how they talked to each other and saw that one of the messages was about the username and password," he told the BBC.

"By posing as a new bulb joining the network we were able to get that information," he added.
"We were able to steal credentials for the wireless network, which in turn meant we could control the lights."

The LIFX project started off on crowd-funding website Kickstarter. Billing itself as the "light bulb reinvented", it brought in over 13 times its original funding target.

The master bulb receives commands from the smartphone applications and broadcasts them to all the other bulbs over a wireless mesh network.

While it had taken two experts two weeks to crack the system, the equipment they had used was cheap and readily available, said Mr Jordon.

LIFX said that it had updated its software since being notified of the vulnerability.
In a blog post, the firm said: "There was a potential security issue regarding the distribution of network configuration details on the mesh radio but no LIFX users have been affected that were are aware of.

"As always we recommend that all users stay up-to-date with the latest firmware and app updates."
Smart cities Increasingly everyday objects are being connected to the network, a phenomenon known as the internet of things.

The number of objects that can potentially be hacked is set to rise exponentially, according to research firm Gartner.

It estimates that there will be 26.5 billion physical objects embedded with technology by 2020. It believes the industry will be worth $1.9tn (£1.1tn) by that time.

"Whereas phones and laptops have had a longer time to sort out security issues, these newer devices haven't learnt and are therefore easy gateways into hacking," said Mr Jordon.

"Security costs time and money and some manufacturers are not putting in the right level of security."
Brian McGuigan, commercial director at Silver Spring Networks, a firm providing networks for smart cities and smart lighting, said the issue of security was not limited to devices for the home as more and more of the furniture in cities was also connected to the network.

"The buyers in cities have a low understanding of security, and they need to be encouraged to leverage the security standards that have been widely used in other industries."

"The internet of things is a building block for cities but a lot of companies offering products are start-ups and under pressure to get to market quickly."

source : BBC News :

Phoebus (Lighting Industry) Cartel : 1924 - 1939
During a recent BBC documentary "The Man Who Made Us Spend" which was about the tactics used by companies to help drive modern-day consumerism, Ban The Bulb was surprised to learn of the Phoebus Cartel which was founded by Osram, Philips and General Electric, amongst others, as a way reducing the useful life expectancy of their light bulbs from 2500 hours to 1000 hours and boosting sales.

This type of in-built obsolescence can still be found in many other consumer products ranging from cars, mobile phones and silicon chips, so the actions of this cartel should still act as a cautionary tale for regulators established to protect consumers or the environment.

Below is the entry from Wikipedia which explains how this cartel succeeded in shortening the lifespan of their products as a way of making them obsolete more quickly and profitably.


The Phoebus Cartel 
The Phoebus cartel was a cartel of, among others, Osram, Philips and General Electric[1] from December 23, 1924, until 1939 that existed to control the manufacture and sale of light bulbs.
The cartel is an important step in the history of the global economy because it engaged in large-scale planned obsolescence. It reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. Phoebus was a Swiss corporation named "Phoebus S.A. Compagnie Industrielle pour le Développement de l'Éclairage".The Phoebus cartel was a cartel of, among others, OsramPhilips and General Electric[1] from December 23, 1924, until 1939 that existed to control the manufacture and sale of light bulbs.
The cartel is an important step in the history of the global economy because it engaged in large-scale planned obsolescence. It reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. Phoebus was a Swiss corporation named "Phoebus S.A. Compagnie Industrielle pour le Développement de l'Éclairage".
OsramPhilipsTungsramAssociated Electrical Industries, ELIN, Compagnie des Lampes, International General Electric, and the GE Overseas Group were members of the Phoebus cartel,[2] holding shares in the Swiss corporation proportional to their lamp sales.
In 1921 a precursor organisation was founded by Osram, the "Internationale Glühlampen Preisvereinigung". When Philips and other manufacturers were entering the American market, General Electric reacted by setting up the "International General Electric Company" in Paris. Both organisations co-ordinated the trading of patents and market penetration. Increasing international competition led to negotiations between all the major companies to control and restrict their respective activities in order not to interfere in each other's spheres.
The cartel was a convenient way to lower costs and worked to standardise the life expectancy of light bulbs at 1000 hours,[citation needed]while at the same time raising prices without fear of competition. Members' bulbs were regularly tested and fines were levied for bulbs that lasted more than 1000 hours[citation needed]. A 1929 table lists exactly how many Swiss francs had to be paid, depending on the exceeding hours of lifetime[citation needed]. This was not public knowledge at the time, and the cartel could point to standardization of light bulbs as an alternative rationale for the organization.
The cartel claimed that 1000 hours was a reasonable optimum life expectancy for most bulbs, and that a longer lifetime could be obtained only at the expense of efficiency, since progressively more heat and less light is obtained, resulting in wasted electricity.[3]
The Phoebus Cartel divided the world’s lamp markets into three categories:
  1. home territories, the home country of individual manufacturers
  2. British overseas territories, under control of Associated Electrical IndustriesOsramPhilips, and Tungsram
  3. common territory, the rest of the world
In the late 1920s a Swedish-Danish-Norwegian union of companies (the North European Luma Co-op Society) began planning an independent manufacturing centre. Economic and legal threats by Phoebus did not achieve the desired effect, and in 1931 the Scandinavians produced and sold lamps at a considerably lower price than Phoebus.
The original Phoebus agreement was intended to expire in 1955[citation needed]; however, World War II greatly disrupted the operation of the cartel.

UK rejects call to include light bulb ban in EU renegotiations
According to, Energy Minister Greg Barker has resisted laws to tinker with the laws that have successfully led to a transformation of the domestic lighting industry. Tthe EU phase out of domestic incandescent light bulbs has now been law for a few years and accelerated the introduction a range of new energy efficient lighting technologies (using up to 90% less electricity) which offer good and controllable light as well as falling prices... The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign is glad to see this law being defended as a way of cutting energy use and driving technological innovation.

Energy minister Gregory Barker has rejected a call for the UK to be exempted from the EU’s ban on incandescent lamps.
During a debate in the House of Commons yesterday, David Nuttall, Conservative MP for Bury North in Greater Manchester, said the UK needed a “complete exemption” from the European ban, which has seen a gradual phase out of inefficient incandescents from the market since 2009.
Nuttall said the exemption would form part of the renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership. He said the UK should be given back “the right to be able to use whatever light bulbs we want – without being told what to do by the EU”.
But the energy minister defended the ban: “By having energy-efficient light bulbs, we are driving innovation and driving down people’s electricity bills. We do not want to go back to having high-cost energy bills and turning our back on innovation.”
Sheila Gilmore, Labour MP for Edinburgh East, asked whether allowances could be made for people with “photosensitive health conditions”.

She urged the minister to consider the implications on health: “Many people clearly suffer health ill-effects from both compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED lighting.”
Barker said: “The UK is sympathetic to concerns raised about the potential health impacts of lighting.” He promised to press the European Commission to take this view into account in the upcoming review.
“We want a flexible approach. And we want to ensure that the EU takes on board the health concerns that have been raised about these technologies.”


Monday, November 04, 2013

Guest Blog : "LED technology advance with the help of smart controls"

Energy Efficient LEDs and Smart Controls

by Danny Paradee of Dr Bulb

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that lighting is responsible for 17% of the total electricity consumed by residential and commercial sectors. For the commercial sector alone, which includes commercial and institutional buildings and public street lighting, lighting consumes about 21% of the total electricity.

Not only is LED lighting saving people money, but the technology is advancing at an incredible rate. Quality LED luminaires have a life of up to 70,000 to 100,000 hours, which adds up to an incredible 20 years of use at 12 hours a day. Soon the issue will switch from having to change your light bulb to changing the fixture itself! This year alone, large strides have been made in how efficient LED bulbs can be.

  • Ushio created a candelabra lamp using LED filament design that emulate a 15 to 20 watt lamp that lasts 40,000 hour...and only uses .6 watts
  • Toshiba has a new outdoor area light that emits 20% more light at 30% less costs.
  • Soraa offers a full spectrum light source that is equivalent to a 65 watt halogen. 

Smart Controls

We know that energy efficient lighting like LED and CFL is helping to reduce energy use across the world. But with cities, towns and property owners still looking for ways to cut energy and costs, sometimes energy efficient lighting is not enough. Even with LED lighting, there is still an issue of “over lighting” spaces. Is it necessary to illuminate certain spaces at full brightness at all hours? 

With smart controls, this problem can be eliminated.

Effective lighting control systems were a big topic at LightFair International 2013. Property managers are now able to monitor lighting and remotely dial down power use with a cellular connection. 

Commands can be sent to wireless nodes throughout the property, which increases system efficacy and reduces overall power use when required. Options for the LED lighting controls are more than just the classic on and off. Controls are capable of changing colors with RGB sources so the LED lights can set the mood in a room.

Many lighting control companies feature control systems linking motion-based lighting (occupancy sensors), switches and dimmers, and light fixtures to a centralized controller. Occupancy sensors make sure that lights are on only when motion is detected. This ensures that the right amount of lighting is provided when needed, which eliminates wasted energy and reduces costs.

Besides reducing energy use, many control systems reduce maintenance by alerting the controller when a lamp needs replacing. This also cuts costs by eliminating late night patrols for street lighting.

LED lighting uses only a fraction of the energy typically used for high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. With energy efficient LED luminaires like LED high bays or LED bollard lights as well as smart controls, the energy savings and return on investment can be incredible

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Guest Blog : How LEDs are making creative lighting designs easier...

For today's guest blog Megan Chase of offered to write an article about the latest applications for energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) illumination technologies.


Growing uses for LED's

With lighting and technology quickly advancing, the uses for LED lights and LED strip lights are becoming more universally used in many different ways. From creating warmly lit rooms, to use in public places, to an intense color changing desk that intensifies your gaming experience, LED lights are being used in a whole variety of interesting and creative ways.

Street Installations
Now that waterproof LED lights are big on trend, there have been more LED strip light street installations than ever. Uses include being wound around tree trunks, underneath benches and tables, along paving areas, around signs and under canopies. Because LED strip lights are so flexible and easy to use, they are a common favourite for outdoor use. Being used in many places as a eye-catching lighting feature, they not only light up public spaces, but they set a stylish and contemporary scene.

Offices and Businesses
The garish and outdated fluorescent bulbs are quickly being forgotten in offices and are being replaced with a variety of LED lights. Not only are LED lights both more economical and cheaper to run than older bulbs, but they also create a more pleasant and attractive light to work in. Fitted in spaces such as along reception areas, under desks and as cove lighting, they are a stylish lighting option which create a professional first impression for businesses.

Future of LED’s
Because of the clear and multiple benefits of LED’s over ordinary incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, the future of this green lighting solution looks very promising. It is anticipated that they will popping up in all manner of popular places and spaces from white LED lights for doctors surgeries to vibrant colour-changing LED strips for nightclubs. Proving to be high quality, reliable and long lasting, both homes and businesses can benefit from its clever design.

To find out more about what is now possible with LEDs visit