Follow us
Select Page

The Avatar effect and IoT lighting

by | Nov 8, 2017

Putting the ‘eye’ in ‘IoT’ – with developments in IoT lighting, it is now possible for lightbulbs to ‘see’ and monitor activity in a building.

In 2010, James Cameron’s movie Avatar was released, earning $2.7bn and becoming one of the highest-grossing blockbusters ever. Featuring a 3D experience of the mystical utopia Pandora, the film allowed viewers to escape into a world where the trees fantastically lit up with touch, guiding whoever (or whatever) along a luminous path towards their goal. For some, the beauty and intangibility of the experience even drove some towards ‘Avatar blues’, the phenomenon of post-film depression induced by a longing to access the magical fantasy land again.

Seven years on, it looks like this world might not be so inaccessible. Developments in internet of things (IoT) lighting make it possible for lighting within a building to switch on in the direction of travel of a moving person. First, beacon technology (a type of a low-cost, micro-location-based technology that uses Bluetooth low energy for locating and communicating with devices such as smartphones) is fitted onto an existing lighting system so it can pinpoint the location of individuals within a space. Second, through a connection to the internet, they are able to “know” where that individual may be going to at a particular point in the day, and predict their lighting requirements on the way.

Movement-sensing technology is also capable of monitoring the use of different spaces within a building. Combined with an externally-stored database into which the information from the sensors is relayed, a time series of space use can be collected and analyzed.  The idea is that occupiers can adjust their real estate footprint to fit requirements more closely, and achieve substantial cost reductions.

The technology is still its infancy but many examples of one-off trials can be found, such as Whole Foods’ “Smarter Carts”, which include sensor technology to allow shopping trollies to follow customers around a supermarket, or the Edge building in Amsterdam, which uses 28,000 sensors in total to assess movement, and control lighting and ambient temperature. Until recently, this ‘smart building’ technology has had to be hard-wired into the lighting system. This has meant that either extensive re-wiring has to take place, or the sensors are integrated as the building is constructed.

However, sensor technologies developed by GOOEE are compatible with a range of lighting systems meaning they can be retrofitted onto the existing system. This also means that as new lighting technologies are developed, the sensors can simply be fitted into existing lighting systems, rather than the entire system needing to be replaced. The beacon technology then provides the same data on space-utilization and ambient conditions as those fitted onto cutting “Edge” technology in the latest smart buildings. The data can be fed back into a database accompanying the sensor technology where it can be analysed. CBRE Amsterdam will be undertaking a trial of this sensor system in January 2018 to test whether it has broader commercial applications.

Ok, so this may not be a mystical utopia promised in Avatar, but it will significantly improve both the management and the sensory experience of the workplace. The future is beaconing!

Regional office market expectations in 2019

Regional office market expectations in 2019

2018 was an outstanding year of office take-up across the UK regional and SE office markets. Can 2019 reach the same dizzying heights? CBRE’s new UK Office Property Perspective reveals record breaking take-up activity (of nearly 7.5 million sq ft) in...

Smarter Cities 2025

Smarter Cities 2025

The term “smart” can be a prefix for a whole host of things: phones, motorways, tickets, cards, buildings.  And also cities, many of which are making concerted attempts to become smarter as a way of generating a range of economic, social, cultural and...

UK offices: the return of the public sector

UK offices: the return of the public sector

Over the past three years, HMRC have taken over 2.2 million sq ft of new office space across 11 regional centres. But have these deals been pivotal to the success of the UK regional office markets or have they simply added to the already growing...

Financial services: why we can bank on London

Financial services: why we can bank on London

CBRE’s latest London report ‘Why we can bank on London’ explores the three key challenges facing the financial sector: Brexit, changing regulation and the growing influence of fintech. The UK is the most specialised major economy in financial services...

A lender not a borrower be

2018 European Outlook: Economics and Politics