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Philips LED Based Smart-Lighting System Leads Customers to Products

Date: 2015-06-02
Browse the number: 40

A new indoor navigation system using LED lights rather than WiFi to pinpoint a user’s location to within a metre is being rolled out in French supermarkets.


Philips, one of the leading global electronics brand, has launched a smart system of LEDs for helping out shoppers, with the first installation of the LEDs ‘indoor positioning system’ adopted by French supermarket and world’s third largest retailer, Carrefour.

The LED-based technology, comprising of 800 linear LED fixtures totalling 2.5 km, has replaced fluorescent lighting at its newly-refurbished hypermarket in Lille, and acts like a sat-nav for shoppers, providing in-store directions to shopping list items via customers’ mobile phones.

“We are always on the lookout for innovations to facilitate customers’ navigation in our stores and meet consumers’ expectations,” commented Céline Martin, Director of Commercial Models and Innovation for Carrefour hypermarkets in France. “Thanks to this new application, which uses Philips technology, we are now able to provide our customers at the EuraLille Carrefour with a new service, enabling them to quickly search and locate their preferred promotions or detect all the promotions around them when in-store. A real time-saver for an urban customer base!”

The system uses the supermarket’s light fixtures to form an indoor positioning grid and, integrating Philips’ Visible Light Communication technology, each LED fixture emits a unique code through light that is invisible to the human eye but is detected by the camera on a smartphone and read by Carrefour’s accompanying iOS mobile app.

This code triggers an app which shows the customer exactly where they are in the store, and helps them to navigate the 7,800 square metre shop-floor to guide them to items on their shopping list and provide information relevant to their location, such as details of special offers, new products and recipe ideas.

The system also comprises a cloud-based location database and a software development kit to allow customers of Philips to build upon the location data to create their own tailored applications. And as well as making supermarkets easier to navigate, Philips claims the LED system can cut electricity consumption by 50 percent compared to conventional store lighting, driving down running costs and making buildings greener.

“We are leading the way with connected lighting for retail with Carrefour,” comments Gerben van der Lugt, Head of LED-based indoor positioning at Philips Lighting. “Our connected lighting system has the potential to transform shopping into a more interactive and personalised experience. At the same time it will enable retailers to differentiate themselves, enhance customer loyalty and provide new services to shoppers.”

One of the advantages of a light-based navigation system is that retailers do not have to invest in additional infrastructure to house, power and support location beacons for indoor positioning. It is also more accurate, according to van der Lugt.

“Radio frequency-based positioning technologies like WiFi or Bluetooth triangulation deliver accuracies of two to five metres and require installation of additional hardware. Philips’ connected lighting system with indoor positioning technology is sub-metre accurate and simply uses the existing lighting infrastructure,” he said. “In addition, Philips’ indoor positioning system provides both orientation and positioning, and has the added advantage of delivering a 50 percent reduction of lighting-based electricity consumption thanks to its energy-efficient LED fixtures.”

Prior to the launch of this technology, there have been similar systems trialled including in the UK with supermarket chain Tesco at one of its ‘Extra’ stores in Essex back in 2011. The app, which was only available on Android, allowed shoppers to enter in their shopping list and then provided a map to each item.

UK rival supermarket chain Sainsbury‘s is also trialling an app that directs customers to the items they want to buy and allows them to pay for their supermarket shop on their smartphone. Both of these work using traditional positioning technologies such as WiFi and beacons.

If the rollout of the LED indoor positioning system in Carrefour’s hypermarket proves successful, other stores are expected to follow as Philips plans to roll out the technology across Europe this year and in North America in 2016.

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