Could the humble light bulb be the beacon of the future -- in more ways than the obvious one? That was the question posed at Dmexco in Cologne, Germany by Dr Christoph Peitz, Director Smart Positioning Solutions, Osram.
The well-known German lightbulb manufacturer, he revealed, is working on strip lighting and LED bulbs that are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). It is experimental work for now, but Peitz believes the humble source of light on the ceiling has several advantages that may not immediately spring to mind.
“Light bulbs are there anyway, they’ve always got power and they don’t tend to get stolen,” he said.
“We’re experimenting with putting beacon technology inside lightbulbs as well as GPS. We’ve got a lot of work to go in working with start-ups and interesting companies to add IoT software to our hardware. They’re going to be a way for people to interact with their surroundings, other brands and one another.’
Possible applications would enable stores to provide customers WiFi as they shop as well as use beacon technology to recognise customers with a welcome and message containing today’s offers. GPS technology could guide customers around a shopping mall or perhaps an office they are visiting. One potential applications using light bulb beacons as a means of guiding people with vision problems around buildings.
For now, however, the application of light bulbs connected to the Internet is that Peitz can turn his home lights on and off over the internet but also they can be programmed to sync with his smartphone alarm. By turning lights on slowly people wake up more naturally, he insists, The future, though, could see the technology move from an alarm clock on the ceiling to providing beacons which empower retail brands to run loyalty programmes that welcome and serve customers as they enter a store.