The boundaries between physical retail and e-commerce are blurring, creating a hyper-connected consumer in search of experiences rather than just products. That was one of the key themes at Paris Retail Week, which asked – Is retail becoming augmented retail?
The Equipmag event, part of the retail week, highlighted the increased digitalisation of our daily lives, and how it is creating new and expanding forms of consumption. Covering such topics as in-store virtual reality, the 360° store experience, virtual changing rooms, conversational virtual assistants or ‘chatbots’, and explores how shopping is evolving for the millennial generation.
Global lighting leader, Philips, chose the event to announce its YellowDot program. The Dutch firm is officially opening up its indoor positioning technology to work with LED luminaires from other lighting companies. Through the YellowDot program, Philips will allow manufacturers to test and certify their LED luminaires to work with Philips’ indoor positioning technology, which will be accompanied by launch of three YellowDot Ready LED drivers (60, 100 and 150W) in Europe by end of this year.
“With the YellowDot program, Philips Lighting and its customers are set to capitalize on the fast emerging market for commercial lighting systems that use indoor positioning. Venue owners such as retailers and malls will have more choice in LED luminaires which they can combine with the most accurate and scalable indoor positioning system in the market,” said Simon den Uijl, Manager Indoor Positioning Partnerships, Philips Lighting.
Perhaps Paris was chosen for the announcement because Trato-TLV Group, the first company to join the YellowDot Program, is a French luminaire manufacturer. Trato-TLV Group has been designing, manufacturing and selling lighting products for nearly 70 years for the service industry, retail outlets and shop chains, the transport sector and care facilities. At the event the firm demonstrated how their LED luminaires will work with the Philips indoor positioning technology.
“By joining the YellowDot program, we are able to give our customers access to the best indoor positioning solution on the market, and are able to obtain a competitive advantage. The Philips Lighting YellowDot Ready drivers enable our luminaires to transmit visible light communication, without impacting energy consumption or lifetime,” said Guillaume Picha, General Manager Trato-TLV Group.
The Philips indoor positioning technology works by individual light points transmitting a unique identifier through a modulation of light, a technology called Visible Light Communication, that is imperceptible to the human eye but detected by the shopper’s smart phone camera. Once the shopper downloads the retailer’s app they can choose to access location-based services, such as locating items on their shopping list to an accuracy of 30 centimeters.
“The transition to LEDs for lighting is happening concurrently with the emergence of the IoT and offers great potential for lighting systems to revolutionize how buildings are networked and monitored,” explains our new comprehensive report on The Internet of Things in Smart Commercial Buildings. “LED lighting also has created the opportunity to become a form of communication itself through light fidelity or Li-Fi,” the report continues.
The system is similar to the pioneering work of professor Harald Haas and his firm Pure LiFi, in creating light communication. “It has always been clear that LiFi is a disruptive technology, but for that to happen it will take some time. There are already many people, worldwide, that have recognized the opportunities of this technology and it is all going in the right direction. I predict that we will see this technology introduced to the market in three to five years, on a large scale,” Haas told Memoori in an interview in early 2015.
In a slightly different form and ahead of Haas’ forecast, Philips light communication technology addresses the growing demand from LED luminaire and retail customers for lighting based indoor positioning technology. Now the move to open up its technology to other LED luminaire manufacturers through the YellowDot program can only further accelerate this retail evolution.
Furthermore, the data stream is one-way meaning Philips patented indoor positioning system does not read information on a shopper’s smartphone and no shopper data is acquired or stored by the lighting system. The shopper opts into the service by downloading the retailer’s app, then the coded location information is used by the app to provide location-based services. The shopper can turn off the app at any time, reducing concerns over privacy and security.
So is retail becoming augmented retail? Philips would certainly have us think so. The success of the YellowDot program will depend on more luminaire manufacturers signing up, however initial interest suggests this will not be a problem. With the launch of it’s LED drivers towards the end of this year, Philips is positioning itself at the forefront of a retail revolution that will flourish in 2017, and no doubt spur new positioning technologies throughout our smart built environment.
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