Strategy

Smarter lighting sows the seeds for a brighter future

09 November 2016 by Hannah Koh
The Interactive Pixel Wall at the Lighting Application Center in Singapore. Smart lighting can enable energy savings and operational efficiencies.

Demand for Internet of Things (IoT) technology and connected systems solutions has grown strongly in recent years, driven primarily by countries looking to implement smart, sustainable technologies that can enable energy savings, operational efficiencies, and even better health and safety standards for their people.

According to market research company IDC, the market for IoT across Asia-Pacific excluding Japan will grow to a value of US$583 billion by 2020.

The Asia IoT Business platform, which advocates IoT adoption in business within Southeast Asia, has predicted that IoT spend in the Philippines and Malaysia will reach US$766.8 million by 2020 and US$10.5 billion by 2025 respectively.

With such abundant opportunities, it is unsurprising that technology providers and private companies in the region are leading the charge to bring intelligent and connected systems  for the home and workplace to the masses.

For one, illumination giant Philips Lighting is leading the way with the launch of their Lighting Application Center (LAC) in Singapore.

The LAC is the company’s first showroom and development centre in Southeast Asia featuring Philips’ most updated IoT and connected lighting technologies applications, and cost approximately S$1.75 million to develop.

Located at the Philips APAC regional hub in Singapore, the 492 sq m LAC is divided into various zones mimicking scenes from daily life including an office, a sports stadium, public streets, a hotel room, and a retail outlet. It is more than 80 per cent covered in LED lights that have interactive or connective capabilities, to function effectively as a demonstration and test space to show lights can help cities or companies achieve smarter ways of living and working.

While there are no specific statistics on the demand for connected lighting per se, Philips Lighting predicts a 70 per cent increase in the number of points for lighting fixtures by 2050, based on trends in population growth and urbanisation. This provides opportunities for the installation and use of connected lighting systems as countries worldwide look to adopt new technologies in a bid to become smarter and more sustainable.

Speaking to Future Ready Singapore, Patricia Yim, market leader of Philips Lighting ASEAN Pacific, said that lighting can play a role in smart cities in three main ways: connectivity between devices or systems; improving the lives of users for more efficient and sustainable economies; and the role of innovation when it comes to the lives of people.

Yim explained that Philips Lighting’s products, as seen in the LAC, offered a smarter solution because connectivity builds on the basic need for light by giving light fixtures extra functionality.  

“It’s not connectivity for the sake of connectivity, because light is always needed,” she emphasised. “It’s about (having) a test bed. If I told you light can communicate, that it can be controlled, you can’t imagine it. But take a tour in the LAC and you see possibilities.”

Visible light communication, or VLC, is one such technology that is generating a lot of interest. VLC-enabled light fixtures emit frequencies that communicate with a customer’s smartphone app to enable the customer to find his or her way around the store or to the desired product, as well as deliver marketing messages such as discounts based on location.

Another technology on display within the LAC is Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE), which lets room occupants control the temperature and light of the room through smartphone apps. It can also sense occupancy levels, lighting usage, and daylight levels within a room and therefore automatically adjust the brightness of the lights for energy savings.

Echoing Yim’s sentiments, Singapore Economic Development Board’s assistant managing director, Lim Kok Kiang, said at the launch of the LAC: “This investment by Philips Lighting in the LAC is aligned with Singapore’s Smart Nation thrust. We look forward to the development of integrated lighting solutions, enabled by IoT that can be deployed in applications spanning from education to logistics.”

“This centre is testament to Singapore’s position as an ideal living lab where companies can develop, test and commercialise smart and sustainable urban solutions before scaling up for Asia and beyond.”

Indeed, the aforementioned VLC and PoE technologies have found viable test sites and applications within Singapore.

Real estate firm CapitaLand and Philips Lighting are teaming up for four pilots in a mall belonging to the former.

The first pilot will test Philips’ VLC technology as a means of targeted marketing and to help shoppers find their way around the outlet. The second involves the cloud-based Philips ActiveSite to remotely control the management and maintenance of facade lighting from anywhere beyond the building’s control room.

PoE technology stars in the third pilot by automatically adjusting in-office lighting based on daylight availability and occupancy levels. It also gives office workers control of workspace lighting through a smartphone app.

The fourth involves the concept of a green parking system, in which lights are activated and deliver illumination through motion sensors to save energy while ensuring a necessary level of lighting.

In a separate collaboration, Philips Lighting will also be installing its Philips GreenWarehouse light system at Toll Global Logistics’ new six-storey, 100,000 sq m storage facility in Tuas called Toll City. The system harnesses PoE technology to function and is expected to reduce Toll City’s energy consumption by at least 50 per cent as well as require fewer instances of maintenance.

Furthermore, in the spirit of fostering the next generation of innovative minds, Philips Lighting is also partnering Admiralty Secondary School and Temasek Polytechnic to seek new ways to use innovative lighting.

According to Eric Rondolat, CEO of Philips Lighting, Singapore’s openness to innovative technologies explains the company’s choice to open the LAC in Singapore.

Speaking at the launch, Rondolat said: “When we talk about innovation, we need to find the hotspots of the world, where we feel at ease to display and develop our innovation, and this is why we are in Singapore today.”

“Singapore is a very important place for us because it is a place where technology’s important, where ambition is paramount, and this is a country that has a stated goal to become the world’s No. 1 Smart Nation.”

Edited by Jessica Cheam and Tan Yixuan