- April 11, 2017
- Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee
The global lighting tech titan Philips Lighting showed SEL its vision of smart cities by 2030, through a Virtual Reality (VR) headset at a recently-concluded expo in New Delhi. With the VR headset on, we got a preview of how the company visualises the role of connected lighting technology in the Modi government’s ‘100 Smart Cities Mission’.
Philips Lighting has swiftly identified that connected lighting and smart cities are the two ‘future markets’ for the lighting and allied industry, which overlap in business potential and social purpose.
We sat down with Harshavardhan Chitale, vice chairman & managing director of Philips Lighting India Ltd, for an interview to know how the company is making giant strides to tap into this emerging landscape, and discuss everything from vision to go-to-market strategy, to products and projects, among others.
How do you foresee the future of the connected lighting in the country?
Connected lighting includes a combination of sensors, wireless networks and LED lighting; all coming together to deliver a comprehensive lighting solution that can be controlled at the touch of a hand-held device. This form of digital light enables new levels of energy-efficiency, amazing new experiences, and smarter ways of working at all places – homes, buildings and urban spaces.
Through connected lighting, Philips Lighting foresees a future where lighting innovations will connect seamlessly with smart controls, networks, devices and apps to positively benefit and improve lives as well as drive new business value with applications in homes, offices and public spaces.
What are the new products and tech enablers that are being rolled out in the connected lighting space?
For homes, a good example of connected lighting is the Philips Hue range. An IoT (Internet of Things) product in its true sense, Hue enables users to personalise their lighting brightness and colour remotely, through an app on their smartphone or tablet. LEDs can be electronically connected to the Ethernet systems in offices, allowing them to communicate with other devices and control usage. Philips Lighting launched the world’s first complete Power over Ethernet (PoE) connected lighting system for offices that gives workers control over their office lighting using their smartphone.
Additionally, building managers can now monitor energy usage and occupancy data to control other facilities, such as air-conditioning, heating, meeting room availability, etc. At the same time, it improves employee comfort and productivity by giving them more control over an open plan environment.
Connected lighting has applications even in public spaces, by becoming building blocks for smart cities. Here, Philips CityTouch systems play an important role, as each light point can be digitally connected and performance data can be sent through the existing cellular networks to the city’s lighting office (industry and energy department) or operator. The data can then enable city officials to efficiently monitor the city’s lighting infrastructure and remotely manage illumination levels to match different needs by the district.
What are the challenges and the growth drivers in this space?
India is home to the world’s youngest population that is increasingly smartphone savvy and an early adopter of latest technology products and trends available globally. We have witnessed a growing awareness about IoT in India, which points to a growth opportunity for home connected lighting systems amongst young tech-savvy consumers. We introduced the Philips Hue product range specifically targeting this tech-savvy population, which is keen on enhancing its homes and lifestyle using technology.
Also, as India’s business landscape matures, expectations of a new generation of employees from their workplaces have increased. We also see employers adopting new technologies that allow them to harness the best from their teams and, in turn, boost their engagement and productivity. These developments have led to the emergence of smart and connected offices, where IoT drives new ways to collaborate, innovate and socialise. Hence, it is not surprising that in today’s fast-changing business environment, new ideas such as connected lighting are being implemented in workspaces that facilitate a culture of innovation based on collaboration.
The emergence of smart cities in India has fueled a demand for connected public lighting systems that have the potential to enhance the quality of life, transform everyday experiences and services, and ensure sustainability in our ever-expanding global cities. The connected streetlights could stream data between millions of devices, collect and distribute data and improve city services, such as light, traffic, air quality, public safety, parking and other location-based services, leverage state-of-the-art communication technologies.
The biggest challenge in growing the connected lighting sphere in India is a lack of awareness about the tremendous advantages of such systems in terms of energy-efficiency, cost savings and applications in various places such as homes, offices and public spaces. We are working with the industry to create awareness about connected lighting through events, white papers and customer outreach.
How are you getting ready to tap ‘100 Smart Cities’ with the connected lighting?
Through our connected lighting systems and services, we are already putting in place today many of the building blocks enabling the smart cities of tomorrow.
I’d like to present the four scenarios that Philips Lighting has developed by looking into the city of 2030, to demonstrate how the future lighting technology can deliver more sustainable, better-connected and more enjoyable cities.
Connected Streets: Connected LED streetlights to provide highly energy-efficient quality light, but they are also sensor nodes on an information highway. In 2030, connected streetlights could stream data between millions of devices. The connected lighting infrastructure collects and distributes data and improves city services such as light, traffic, air quality, public safety, parking and other location-based services, leveraging the state-of-the-art communication technologies. Autonomous vehicles navigate roads safely, using and communicating with sensors in streetlights that scan the road and pavements and provide a frame of reference by transmitting situational information to augment the vehicles’ on-board sensors.
Interactive Public Spaces: Scarcity of space will compel cities to extend public spaces underground, with a seamless transition made possible by lighting that mimics natural daylight and makes people feel comfortable. The digital lighting system can send positional data to help drones navigate and deliver items, while responsive light walls display art and foster citizen interaction and creativity.
Sustainable City Farming: Beneath the city and in unused spaces, urban farms that use little water and no pesticides, can grow plants and vegetables sustainably – reducing the distance between the farm and fork, increasing food security, ensuring provenance and protecting precious natural resources.
More Personalised Living: In the home of 2030, lighting will be able to synchronise with everything from the doorbell to television and music and will be fully adjustable to individual preferences. It will pre-empt needs of users and complement their wellbeing, energise, relax and keep them safe.
What projects have you completed in the connected lighting space in the country? What new projects are you working?
We have accomplished some major implementations of connected lighting in the country. A leading technology company’s new R&D campus in Bengaluru uses more than 10,000 connected LED luminaries, which are being installed throughout the state-of-the-art facility – 5,000 of which are equipped with sensors – and are powered over an Ethernet network.
Besides, several states have also started to adopt efficient street lamps because of the Government of India’s smart city initiative. Philips Lighting partnered with Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA) by providing energy-efficient LED streetlights and lighting control systems for the new planned city. NRDA has planned to develop the new city as a ‘green and smart city’ in every sense. They were looking for energy-efficient lighting solutions for lighting up different roads within the city.
Philips Lighting India recently won a 12-year connected street lighting project in Pune to upgrade and operate more than 77,000 streetlights to LED, enabling remote control and monitoring of LED streetlights in the city. The project will be self-funded through the energy savings generated through LED installation, where additionally the city corporation and citizens would benefit from improved lighting levels and high uptime of LED streetlights at no additional cost.
What are your manufacturing and assembly programmes for the connected lighting in India, in light of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’?
We have a strong manufacturing footprint in the country, which includes both direct and indirect units spread across the country. Our manufacturing facilities in Mohali (Punjab) and Vadodara (Gujarat) are amongst the largest Philips Lighting facilities in the world, and are the cornerstone of our ‘Local for Local’ strategy, in addition to exporting products to 24 countries across the globe. These two sites are complemented by our strong network of 41 contract manufacturers that we have supported and built in the country.
We have also established large global R&D units – Philips Lighting Innovation Centre (PLIC) in Noida (NCR), and Philips Innovation Campus (PIC) in Bengaluru – to work on the emerging LED and solar lighting technologies not just for India, but also for the global market. As a result, we design and manufacture in India more than 90% of what we sell in the country.
What are the specific steps that you are taking for branding and communication for this lighting technology?
Our overall marketing campaign on connected lighting is called ‘Light beyond Illumination’. Under this umbrella campaign, we plan and engage in several marketing initiatives such as events, roundtables, conferences, case studies, customer events, etc to highlight our connected lighting systems and solutions, in addition to our regular marketing communication activities.