For all their wisdom and foresight in other areas, the creators of the Internet missed the mark when, in devising IPv4, they thought that 4.3 billion IP addresses would be sufficient. But they weren’t counting on so many telephones and cars being assigned their own IP addresses, or the Internet explosion in the developing world. Which is why this year, with the official depletion of available IPv4 addresses, the switch over to IPv6, with its 340 undecillion addresses, is more pressing than ever.
But if 2128 addresses seem a trifle too many to exhaust, well, ever, stuff like this at once shows a) that some people are still trying hard to do so and b) the potential outcomes, good and bad, available when IP addresses become a truly unlimited resource. A company called NXP wants every single lightbulb in the world to have its own IP address, and it recently rolled out an initiative to that end.
What if every light bulb had its own unique Internet IP address? The possibilities are endless: You could monitor, manage and control every light bulb from any Internet-enabled device – turning lights on and off individually, dimming or creating scenes from your smartphone, tablet, PC or TV – to save energy as well as electricity costs. Your “smart lighting” network could have dozens or even hundreds of appliances connected through a wireless network designed for maximum energy savings, communicating information about their environment, about power consumption levels, and alerting you to any problems. Today, NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ: NXPI) is introducing its GreenChip™ smart lighting solution that makes the Internet-enabled, energy-efficient lighting network a reality – not only for businesses, but also for consumers trying to make the most of energy savings in the home.
Beginning tomorrow at LIGHTFAIR International, NXP and partners TCP and GreenWave Reality will be showcasing a consumer-ready, Internet-enabled Smart Lighting network powered by the GreenChip smart lighting solution.
So to summarize, the promise of IPv6-equipped lightbulbs is that they would be more energy-efficient and customizable and that they could be easily controlled from mobile phones or the web.
Slashdot is skeptical for more reason than one: A few critiques are that this is tech for tech’s sake, would make light bulbs more expensive to manufacture, and would make them vulnerable to malicious attacks, and probably wouldn make them less energy efficient after all. One Slashdotter says that this could work with light fixtures, though: “Architecturally, this is the wrong place to put uniquely addressed devices. The addresses should be in the fixtures, to avoid the maintenance headache of readdressing bulbs every time they are replaced. If I want the lights in the room to dim, I don’t want to tell the bulbs, I want to tell the room that I’m sitting in. The room contains the fixtures. The fixtures contain the bulbs. How the room talks to the fixtures and the fixtures talk to the bulbs are different questions, but individually addressable bulbs is a maintenance disaster waiting to happen.”