Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Philips Li-Fi: Smart lighting, smart shopping

Philips’ latest LED innovation; the Li-Fi system, is being piloted by a number of retailers. Li-Fi uses in-store lighting to transmit information to the camera on consumers’ smart phones. Customers who have downloaded the app will be alerted of nearby offers, receive recipes and can be directed to specific items on their shopping lists.

Li-Fi uses Visual Light Communications (VLC) to communicate with customers’ smart phones; it is a one way communication system meaning consumers’ identities are protected. The stores ceiling luminaires are placed in a positioning grid, communicating with the camera sensors in their smart phones. Each lighting fixture in the grid communicates by blinking at frequencies so high they are undetectable to the human eye. Through these fast pulses information is transmitted relevant to the customer’s location within the store.

In addition to the energy saving benefits of LED lighting, this latest invention means retailers do not have to invest in additional infrastructure to house, power and support location beacons for indoor positioning. The light fixtures themselves can communicate this by virtue of their presence all over the store.