Smart lights help shoppers find groceries

Philips is piloting a Li-Fi system for retailers, which allows ‘intelligent’ LED lights in shop ceilings to communicate with shoppers through a smartphone app. 

The app alerts users to nearby offers and can point out the location of products the shopper is looking for.   

The connected retail lighting system is based on visual light communication, also known as Li-Fi. Luminaires are placed in a positioning grid and communicate with camera sensors in smartphones via modulations of the light that are invisible to the human eye.

Each lighting fixture in the grid transmits information relevant to its position, allowing shoppers to receive highly targeted real-time offers and recipes on their phones as they stroll down the aisles. The system can also direct customers to the location of ingredients on their shopping list.

‘The advantage is that it’s a one-way system, connecting to the consumer as they are buying something, as opposed to a two-way system which could reveal identities,’ said Menno Kleingeld, head of indoor lighting for EMEA at Philips.

In December 2013, Philips launched a similar intelligent LED project at the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden, the Netherlands. The museum uses a connected lighting system to provide information on exhibits while visitors are viewing them.

A spokesperson for Philips said: ‘The museum has enjoyed cutting edge lighting and indoor positioning technology integrated within its exhibition. They are hoping to receive more visitors as a result of this as the visitor learns much more about exhibits through this intelligent lighting system.’

Philips’ connected retail lighting system is currently being trialled in a number of retail stores.  It was demonstrated at EuroShop in Düsseldorf, and will also be showcased at Light + Building 2014.