The global leader in smart lighting solutions for more than 125 years, Signify, is constantly innovating to create a ‘brighter’ future for the world. After bringing various revolutions in the field of lighting, the company has now introduced its Interact IoT Platform that enables connected LED lighting systems and embedded sensor networks to deliver insights, benefits and new services to customers. Over an email interview with Sumit Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Signify India Innovations Limited, LED World gathered information about the company’s perspective on various topics and plans for future.
Attributed to: Mr. Sumit Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Signify India Innovations Ltd. (Erstwhile Philips Lighting India)
What is the current state of smart/intelligent lighting in India?
Over the past few years, penetration of LED products has increased substantially owing to rapid urbanisation and growing consumer awareness. LEDs are fast replacing conventional lighting at workplaces, public infrastructure, industries and homes.
We are now witnessing the next wave of transformation with the entry of connected and intelligent lighting in homes and offices. Having a ‘Smart Home’ has become the latest urban dream, thanks to the entry of smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home. With evolving urban lifestyles, people are seeking lighting that can be customised to suit their lifestyles and moods. Our Philips Hue personal lighting range enables consumers to personalise their lighting experience using the Hue app on their smartphone. It can turn everyday lighting into an extraordinary experience. The system syncs seamlessly with music, movies and games, and transforms your room into an entertainment arena, bringing spatial awareness and immersiveness to a whole new level.
We also see a growing awareness about energy efficiency and productivity in offices and commercial buildings. Building managers are seeking data analytics and insights for their lighting infrastructure, enabling them to take intelligent decisions about a building’s energy consumption and occupancy levels.
In large offices, our Interact Office platform, which was launched in India early this year, enables employees to personalise the intensity and colour of light at their workstations, thereby enhancing their productivity. Building managers can also get updated information about the efficiency and usage of the real-estate and energy on real-time basis, wirelessly.
What is the main focus of Signify at present?
As the global leader in lighting, we innovate, design, build, and deliver world-class lighting systems embedded with intelligence and connected through software to deliver capability to manage, monitor and control lighting assets, enable data harvesting and analysis for improvement of lighting operation and business performance. We are positioning ourselves as the lighting company for the Internet of Things.
With the world around us becoming more digital, we are transforming light sources into data points to connect more devices, places and people through light and contributing to a safer, more sustainable and smarter world. Our company name Signify is inspired from the fact that light has become an intelligent language that connects and conveys meaning.
We are pioneering breakthrough innovations in products, system architectures and services – making bold investments in sensors, cloud-based controls platforms, connected lighting, indoor positioning technology and consumer-based personalised lighting systems. Our recent innovations such as LiFi and Interact reiterate our focus on driving customer value through connected lighting systems.
What kind of prospects do you see for lighting automation in India?
The demand for home automation and smart homes has been rising steadily in the Indian market over the past few years with the entry of global players such as Amazon and Google. Although it is still at a nascent stage, the market is expected to grow in the future owing to increasing consumer awareness, growing internet penetration and availability of smart home technologies like digital assistants, smart lighting and other smart consumer durables. However, the lack of a proper ecosystem of smart devices and data security concerns around these devices are currently impeding their growth in the short term.
The growth of home automation has led to a steady demand for smart lighting as well. Today, consumers can choose from a host of solutions such as controlling lights from their devices r through voice, monitoring their home and turning on their consumer durables remotely etc. While the possibilities of automation continue to grow every day, the most popular smart applications include lighting, thermostats and other home appliances. The Philips Hue Smart Lighting System opens-up limitless possibilities to experience smart lighting. It allows consumers to control their lights using their smartphone, whether they are at home or abroad. They can also choose from a wide range of light fixtures to suit their design requirements, with products like bulbs, light strips, pendants, table and floor lamps and downlighters.
What steps are you taking to spread awareness about smart lighting? What challenges do you come across?
We have a wide network of our own retail stores called Philips Smart Light Hubs spread across the country. These stores feature our entire range of Philips Hue smart lighting products. The smart light hub replicates actual home settings of a living room, bedroom and a dining room, enabling customers to experience first-hand different applications and recipes of light to suit their requirements.
In addition to this, we also highlight the applications of smart lighting on our website and our social media handles.
What do your clients look for while replacing their existing lighting with smart solutions from Signify?
In this digital age, data is power. Being able to track the efficiency of your lighting assets and drive bigger business value from them is a key ask from our customers. Our connected lighting solutions such as Interact deliver new insights to help our customers drive operational efficiencies and take more effective decisions. With our connected lighting solutions, in addition to lowering electricity consumption, customers can also track occupancy levels, track breakdown, repair and maintenance data amongst many others.
A typical example of such a service is occupancy data from different buildings, combined and analyzed to help managers to understand and predict how people use office space. Such insights can help deliver savings by optimizing the use of existing office space and support better designed, more efficient buildings.
In addition, data from authorized third-parties can also be analyzed by Interact. For example, for a municipal authority, news articles and social media posts, reacting to a new lighting installation on a bridge, can be analyzed and data sent to a social impact app dashboard that summarizes the public sentiment.
What innovations will Signify introduce in smart home segment in the future?
We will further expand our Philips Hue range to include more applications in a home, such as outdoor, gardens and bathrooms.
Share some insights on intelligent lighting in retail segment. How is Signify contributing to indoor positioning system (IPS) technology in this segment?
Shopping has been transformed by the ‘always on’ culture, with customers constantly connected to their smartphones and social media. Not only are consumers more empowered, but they now have multiple touchpoints with retailers. Many will use the web to update themselves before visiting stores and will continue to browse online as they shop. With the millennial generation now center stage, ‘digital natives’ have become a core target for retailers.
To prosper in this new era, brick-and-mortar stores need to combine their physical presence with investment in a seamless online and mobile presence. That’s where lighting can play an important role. In an effort to enhance the in-store experience for shoppers with location-based marketing and wayfinding, we recently introduced our Indoor Positioning system (IPS).
The IPS is a hyper accurate, wall-to-wall indoor positioning solution that enables mega-stores to provide personalised location based services to their customers via their in-store app. Coupled with a loyalty database, this technology delivers real-time personalised promotional pop-ups and location-based product suggestions to shoppers’ smartphones as they are browsing in the physical store. Wayfinding can also improve staff efficiency by helping with restocking and online order picking. Data gathered from the smartphone app can provide valuable insights for store managers, including information about space use, dwell time and shopper journeys. Consisting of LED fixtures that not only light up the store with energy efficient, high quality light, but also connects with the shoppers as soon as they step inside the store, maps their preferences and guides them towards the shelves where the products that are in their app’s shopping cart are displayed.
What can be the other uses of IPS?
Lighting can prove to be an extremely efficient medium, guiding shoppers while providing the data which can enhance the retailers’ CRM database. Therefore, while one of the main benefits remains enhancing the customer experience, IPS is beneficial to the retailers as every output is measurable. It can also help vendors increase the sales by pushing more relevant products towards the consumers by giving contextual information through the app.
How is government supporting the proliferation of intelligent lighting? How do you see the progress of smart cities mission?
The Government of India has supported the smart cities mission in a big way by announcing the list of 100 smart cities in India. Each of these smart cities’ are now working on plans to develop a blueprint that can create a smarter, efficient and safer city for its residents.
Lighting plays a significant role in the development of smart cities of the future as it pervades every area of an individual’s life – home, work, on the road and in public places. We at Signify are helping to pave the way for massive urban growth by developing a people-centric blueprint for lighting and Internet of Things (IoT) services for smart cities of the future. Connected LED lighting is a key enabler for smart cities and has the potential to enhance overall quality of life, transform everyday experiences, services and ensure sustainability in our ever-expanding global cities.
It is estimated that by 2030, 60% of people will live in cities and there will be close to 70 billion light points in the world. Many of these light points will be connected – sensor nodes in networks capable of acquiring, sending and receiving data. The primary function of public lighting is to provide energy efficient, quality light to enhance public safety. However, in the future, a city’s lighting infrastructure will also offer enormous potential to be part of a city-wide network capable of acquiring data and delivering information and services to and from millions of devices, from garbage bins to autonomous vehicles. In this way it could help enable smart city services to improve the lives of its citizens and city managers alike.
Share your views on the future of smart lighting in India and the world
Light has transformed beyond just illumination and can deliver much more value in every application. The digital nature of LED technology has also brought illumination and IT together, allowing lighting systems to participate in the Internet of Things, transforming lighting from a commodity product to a fully integrated system that can seamlessly connect with a wireless network or Ethernet, allowing users to remotely control and monitor their lighting systems. We believe that light has enormous potential in today’s digital age and we have only unearthed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its true capabilities.
We have already installed 29 million connected light points worldwide and plan for every new LED product of ours to be connectable by 2020. This growing number of connected light points, sensors and devices, as well as systems, can collect large volumes of data for which Interact was designed to handle. The highly secure, scalable cloud-based Interact platform uses sophisticated and modern data management and data processing capabilities, including machine learning, to bring sense to all manner of data – creating data-enabled services for customers that will deliver benefits beyond illumination. It also offers a growing suite of licensed open application program interfaces (APIs) which will foster innovation from third-party developers, development partners and customers, enabling various data enabled services to be developed.
We also believe that technologies like LiFi will play an important role in the future as well. We announced our Light Fidelity (LiFi) technology last year, in which high quality LED lighting provides a broadband Internet connection through light waves. As the lighting company for the Internet of Things, Signify is the first global lighting company to offer LiFi-enabled luminaires from its existing office lighting portfolio.
LiFi is a two-way, high-speed wireless technology similar to WiFi but uses light waves instead of radio waves to transmit data. Our office luminaires enabled with LiFi technology provide broadband connection with a speed of 30 Mb per second (Mb/s) without compromising lighting quality. With 30Mb/s a user can stream simultaneously several HD quality videos while having video calls. Moreover, it is a much safer alternative than electromagnetic radio wave based technologies like WiFi, especially in sensitive user applications like hospitals, schools and government offices.