Could smart light bulbs be the IoT (Internet of Things) technology that puts smart-home solutions on the map for mainstream consumers as builders look to add more? One key component to more widespread adoption of smart home is a clear value add—something smart lighting, with its automation capabilities and energy efficiency, could help deliver in this new world of home automation.

ABI Research,, a provider of trends analysis and forecasting in the technology and communications space, describes smart-light bulbs’ current stage of development as “embryonic,” but forecasts an upcoming period of growth and maturation. For instance, ABI says there were fewer than 2.5 million units shipped in 2013, but there could be as many as 223 million units shipped annually by 2020.

What could cause this upward trend? ABI suggests it will be a combination of factors, including downward-trending prices, companies’ desire to provide connectivity as a value-added feature to attract connected consumers, and the fact a number of leading lighting manufacturers have backed ZigBee Light Link as a preferred connectivity solution. Despite stiff competition from other solutions, ABI says light bulbs that integrate 802.15.4 will dominate smart lighting, with ZigBee being the most “prolific” enabling technology.

Fragmentation within the IoT industry, however, could be more than just a speed bump for this and other sectors of the market. ABI recognizes this fact along with other potentially limiting factors such as high upfront costs, security concerns, and the need for advanced infrastructure, among others.

Smart lighting solutions for consumers, businesses, and even municipalities will eventually become commonplace thanks to automation capabilities and the technology’s ability to reduce energy use. While it may or may not be the watershed technology that brings smart home to the masses, its relatively straightforward value add could go a long way in doing so.

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