That LED Fixture in Your Grocery Store May Soon Talk to You

Overhead lighting in retail store

In a recent article for the Lighting Control Association, author Craig DiLouie imagines a future for digital lighting that is remarkably close to happening “today”.

Digital controls pre-dated digital lighting and gave us a glimpse of the power of networked lighting. Digital hardwired smart lighting included individual fixture addressability, handheld remote control, zoning control, energy efficiency monitoring and a communication protocol allowing performance feedback.

Wireless control systems expanded the networked analog lighting functionality particularly by miniaturizing control devices so they could be integrated into fixtures.

Enter the white LED and architectural digital lighting. The marriage of digital control and digital lighting creates almost unlimited potential for expanding the lighting network… and more.

According to DiLouie, LED fixtures “offer the ability to serve as infrastructure for additional onboard equipment and sensors that can collect and share temperature, occupancy and other data, opening a wide range of new applications. The real potential is to expand lighting’s value proposition from energy savings and longevity toward data and the business value that data can unlock”.

For example, in office buildings video occupancy sensing could be integrated into light fixtures to enhance security.  In parking lots, sensors in the lights could identify open parking spaces for drivers. In memory care facilities, occupancy sensors combined with digital white light color tuning could enable bluer wavelength light in late afternoon to help keep residents stay awake until bedtime.

Besides information collection, an even more sophisticated application is using visible light to talk to mobile phones and tablets. Philips and GE are among the manufactures to have demonstrated fixture integrated, visible light communication as a way for big box retail to help shoppers find products and to deliver targeted advertising.

If all this sounds a bit spooky, the reality is we are entering a world of digital integration of information, communication and data collection. Light fixtures, now fully digital, are poised to be, according to DiLouie, the “Trojan Horse of a networked world”. LED lighting, quite unexpectedly, is about to become the next “infrastructure, a platform”.

Read the complete article here.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.