Lighting based indoor positioning revolutionises US stores

Walmart is believed to be one of the major US stores to be using IPS.

Acuity Brands claims it has now deployed lighting-based indoor positioning systems (IPS) in swathes of retail space across the US. The company made the boast in a joint show of force with Microsoft, with which Acuity has been developing IoT products.

The two companies showed Acuity luminaires communicating information to in-store shoppers and sending data to Microsoft's Azure cloud system to discern useful retail patterns and insights, during the National Retail Federation exhibition in New York.

'We’ve made considerable progress in the retail market, having deployed our fully commercialised IPS solution in nearly 40 million ft2 of working retail space,' Greg Carter, vice president and general manager of the IoT business unit in Acuity's lighting group commented, as reported in LEDs Magazine.

'We are excited about the opportunities to continue to enhance our offerings that will allow retail companies to provide more tailored, personalized, and mobile-enabled omnichannel shopping experiences for their customers.'

Retail stores like Target have been deploying lighting-based indoor positioning technology, but neither Target nor Acuity will confirm that Target is using Acuity technology.

'We cannot discuss any customers due to our agreements,' an Acuity spokesperson told LEDs Magazine. 'We are working with a number of retailers in the Top 25.'

Users are believed to include both Walmart and Target, the first and second ranked brick-and-mortar retailers in the US, respectively.

Target in particular has gained attention for trialing IPS, as Lux Review first revealed nearly two years ago.

Acuity's lighting-based IPS communicates with end users' smartphones via either the modulation of LED lightwaves, a technology known as visible light communication (VLC), or via Bluetooth chips embedded in ceiling luminaires.

Either way, the lights can welcome the shopper to the store and then direct him or her to discounts of particular interest to that individual. The system can then send data about the customer's actions to the cloud, giving the retailer and its suppliers valuable insights on sales and shopper behavior.

Acuity announced last summer that it was providing Target with smart lighting technologies in stores and distribution centers to reduce energy and improve illumination. 

In promoting its Microsoft exhibition this week in New York, Acuity lauded its IPS technology for 'allowing retailers to save considerable energy and maintenance costs, while deriving highly accurate, real-time location of loyal customers, employees, and critical assets.'

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