Sponsored Content Bringing Technologies Together: The Creation of Indoor Location Services

Apr 27, 2020
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Bringing Technologies Together: The Creation of Indoor Location ServicesLighting engineers, Peter Ngai and Kevin Ledford recently discussed what they see as trends and innovations impacting the lighting industry. Part one included a deep dive discussion into the need for a renewed focus on lighting quality. The following is part two of their conversation where the experts discuss bringing technologies into lighting to form and develop Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Click here to read part 1.

“Lighting has two different personalities. There is lighting for lighting’s sake and lighting to gather data,” said Ngai.

As Peter Ngai points out there are two personalities for lighting, one is the kinds of technologies that affect what lighting itself can do and the other is lighting for the sake of providing illumination. The technology enables advanced controls for setting zones, yields color changing, tuning and dimming functionalities. An application of indoor positioning systems (IPS) or indoor location services (ILS) leverages a low bandwidth network created by connecting digitally networked lighting and controls for business applications like wayfinding or asset tracking (location-aware services).

The big data from these systems offers another way to look at the world by presenting the opportunity to make decisions with data and data analysis – the application of which can enhance experience and intuition. According to the experts, this is the future of the industry and it is up to the engineers to combine light quality with technology to give the quality and consistency needed for togetherness.

By adding more digital technologies to the location-aware sensors, we can measure air pollution, chemicals in the air, or traffic in an intersection. The stakeholders for these applications have been waiting for the ideal platform and are excited to use lighting to solve their latest business challenge or community issues, because light is everywhere and creates an accessible, ready-made foundation. The lighting platform covers a space while supplying power to the various sensors and controls.

Both Leadford and Ngai agree that the importance of light as purely a source of illumination has become overshadowed by embedded technologies in the short term, but there is a renewed focus on light quality due to the maturation of those technologies.

According to the experts the balance can be accomplished. At Acuity Brands we’ve been working diligently to create an IoT infrastructure while ensuring lighting quality in our designs. It is one thing to enable a digital lighting network for IoT applications that don’t consider lighting’s inherent purpose – to illuminate space. We design for both IoT applications and high quality of light with consideration for the human experience in those spaces.

“Lighting designers today understand that big data and smart lighting technologies can manage inventory, routing, and other business processes/applications. In areas like design, the lighting designer’s job is to add that touch of humanity, which is the creativity and emotion, said Leadford. “Technology alone can’t bring that element.”

Both lighting experts believe that technology will continue to play an important role in the future of lighting design. They gave a shout out to those elusive technologies that are still in their nascency – AR, VR and machine learning. To resolve the resolution issues in VR googles, Ngai and Leadford lauded that microLEDs are the most cutting-edge technology that will be used to enhance these products. These LEDs are the size of a thousandth of a human hair but will add clarity and resolution quality for the viewer!

It is an encouraging outlook for the lighting industry, and the vision gets clearer with every innovation.

Acuity Brands is one of the leading providers in North America for the smart lighting and automated building markets. Not only do they offer lighting and building management solutions but use the infrastructure to provide indoor location services with features such as asset tracking and geo-fencing for zone analysis services. Acuity Brands has had significant success within the market as a result of their acquisition strategy that continues to evolve and expand its offerings.

The lighting solutions vary from individual devices including; luminaires, lighting controls, wireless networking components as well as several different controllers for various other building systems, to intelligent network systems. The network systems can not only be used to increase energy efficiency on indoor applications but also outdoor applications too. the expansion of their product portfolio is continuously growing due to the software and services they provide, enabling them to offer economic benefits due to the data analytics allowed by the Internet of Things.