Target gives the go-ahead on IoT lights at half its stores

Published on:October 9, 2017
By Mark Halper
Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

At last the retailer and Acuity will roll out the world`s largest lighting-based indoor positioning system, using Bluetooth but not VLC.

The world`s largest known deployment of lighting-based indoor positioning is finally going full speed ahead, as US retail giant Target plans to roll out a customer engagement system in nearly half of its 1800 stores by Christmas.

Interested in articles & announcements on indoor positioning and IoT applications?

Using Bluetooth chips embedded in LED ceiling lights from Acuity Brands, Target will send signals to shoppers` phones. Drawing on a Target app, the phones will display an interactive map that guides individuals around the aisles, helping them find specific items and providing information about discounts.

“This promises to make it easier than ever to find what you’re looking for, so you can fill up your cart and get on your way,” Target chief information and digital officer Mike McNamara said in a video blog on Target`s website. “It`ll even tell you if the product`s on sale, so you never have to miss out on an opportunity to save.” He likened the system to driving a car using GPS.

Target has been piloting indoor positioning (IPS) for several years, as LEDs Magazine`s sister publication Lux first reported exclusively back in April 2015.

But like many early indoor positioning implementations, Target has held back from full-on deployment. As of two years ago, it was trialing the technology in about 100 stores.

At the time, it was kicking the tires on different methods, including both Bluetooth wireless radio as well as something called visible light communication (VLC), which sends signals to phones via LED-generated lightwaves, rather than via radio frequencies.

The lights will not only illuminate, but will also help guide you and deliver information to your phone at hundreds of Target stores. (Photo credit: Target.)

The lights will not only illuminate, but will also help guide you and deliver information to your phone at hundreds of Target stores. (Photo credit: Target.)

In a decision that will disappoint VLC advocates and which some observers will find surprising, the retail chain said it has decided to use Bluetooth but not VLC, a Target spokesperson told LEDs. He declined to elaborate, and Acuity would not comment.

It could be that improvements related to the recent ratification of a Bluetooth mesh standard convinced Target to choose the radio method. The mesh standard prescribes a common method for allowing Bluetooth chips to hand off instructions to each other, effectively extending the range of Bluetooth far beyond the 30 ft that it typically provides.

Bluetooth`s disadvantage compared to VLC is that it is not as accurate — it can pinpoint a product`s location on a shelf to within 2–3m (about 6.5–10 ft) versus VLC`s 30 cm, which is less than a foot.

But one of VLC`s drawbacks is that it requires a user`s phone to constantly point to the ceiling lighting, because lightwaves have to hit the phone`s camera in order for the technology to work. In contrast, Bluetooth does not require line of sight for such Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Another downside for VLC in indoor positioning projects is that lights have to always be on. That means VLC would often not function in a store or mall with plenty of natural light — say, one with a glass atrium and skylights — unless the lights were switched on when they don`t have to be for traditional illumination purposes. That`s one reason why Philips Lighting, a pioneering VLC enthusiast, is now using Bluetooth as well, and in some instances combining the two technologies.

Target is embedding Bluetooth transmitters in Acuity ceiling lights, the Target spokesperson said, noting that the system will only work with iPhones at first. Android support will follow later.

The rollout at Target could help boost the lighting-based IPS concept and encourage further takeup of the IoT scheme, which has been characterized by one-off implementations in single or small groups of stores — such as at an EDEKA Paschmann store in Dusseldorf and E.Leclerc store in Langon, France; at the Dubai-based retail chain aswaaq; a Carrefour store in Lille, France, and elsewhere.

As of last July, Acuity itself claimed to have deployed lighting-based indoor positioning in over 50 million ft2 of retail space, although it has been reticent about naming its users. Its trials are believed to include Walmart.

Acuity has been steadily building its indoor positioning arsenal. It picked up VLC technology when it acquired VLC specialist company ByteLight in 2015. ByteLight had been working with GE prior to the acquisition. Acuity also uses VLC technology from Qualcomm called Lumicast, and, as LEDs has reported, Acuity has used the former ByteLight team to help integrate VLC and Bluetooth into one system (if that combination exists in the Bluetooth-led system at Target, no one is saying).

Last spring, it launched a systems integration program inviting partners to help develop indoor positioning and other indoor IoT programs such as asset tracking. It also launched a Bluetooth system that tracks shopping carts around stores in order to provide retailers with information on floor traffic and also to keep tabs on the carts` whereabouts.

It`s all part of push by lighting companies to morph more into information technology companies, and to develop offerings that collect data, which can then be monetized in many ways, such as by offering promotions and discounts to the IoT application users.

There is the question of whether shoppers even want guidance on their phones as they navigate around physical-world stores.

Another issue that has possibly held back indoor positioning schemes is that they raise security and privacy concerns. With that in mind, Philips Lighting left personalization out of a recent implementation at the four-story Media Markt computer and electronics shop in Eindhoven.

The lighting industry also faces another challenge: Even as more large end users such as Target decide to deploy, those users might buy from a more conventional IT supplier rather than from a lighting company.

For example, Barclays plc has deployed sensors to help monitor office usage at its investment banking headquarters in London, without embedding those sensors in lights.

For reasons like that, lighting company Osram now has a business selling Bluetooth chips, such as when it provided a retail chain with Bluetooth hardware to connect to non-Osram lights for a system at Guess and Marc O`Polo fashion shops in Switzerland.

Likewise, smart lighting specialist Gooee last year teamed with Israel`s PointGrab Ltd. to tie that company`s CogniPoint wall-mounted sensors into the Gooee cloud data analysis system.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist (markhalper@aol.com).

Source: LEDS Magazine

Circadian scientists who have studied light’s impact win Nobel

Published on:October 4, 2017
By Mark Halper
Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

The award further validates the emerging field of human-centric lighting, which is helping to drive the LED industry`s future.

For the second time in three years, a trio of scientists connected to lighting has won a Nobel Prize, as the Nobel Assembly has awarded three biologists with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for helping to explain how the human circadian cycle works, including how light affects our daily rhythms.

Interested in articles & announcements on circadian light or human-centric lighting?

To be clear, light was not the centerpiece of research by the three new Nobel Laureates Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young — in contrast to the lighting centric work of Shuji Nakamura, Isamu Akasaki, and Hiroshi Amano who won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention of the blue LED.

Rather, Hall, Rosbash, and Young over the years revealed the complicated cell-level mechanisms that literally make the circadian clock tick, in work on fruit flies that has since been shown to also explain the circadian processes in humans. Hall is affiliated with Rockefeller University in New York, and Rosbash and Young with Brandeis University in Boston, as well as the University of Maine for Young.

The circadian clock keeps many biological functions in sync, as this illustration shows. Artificial light like LED can disrupt or buoy the timekeeping, with major health ramifications. (Art credit: Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute.)

In investigations spanning a decade or more starting in 1984, they identified three genes, including the “period gene” that helps build a protein called PER, which accumulates in a cell`s nucleus. PER also blocks the period gene from making more PER and then degrades during the day. Another gene called “timeless” assists the process by helping to build a protein called TIM that moves PER from one part of the cell into the nucleus, where it needs to be. A third gene called “doubletime” helps build a protein called DBT that delays PER`s accumulation.

Together, those genes keep the circadian clock in sync, which is crucial because the clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature, blood pressure, and metabolism.

Messing with the clock could throw off any of those functions, which has ramifications for health and wellbeing, and has been linked in other research to diseases including cancer, diabetes, and more.

Light is one factor that can throw the clock out of rhythm, a fact not lost on the three new Nobel Laureates Hall, Rosbash, and Young.

“The paradigm-shifting discoveries by the Laureates established key mechanistic principles for the biological clock,” the Nobel Foundation said in announcing the prize. “During the following years, other molecular components of the clockwork mechanism were elucidated, explaining its stability and function. For example, this year’s Laureates identified additional proteins required for the activation of the period gene, as well as for the mechanism by which light can synchronize the clock.”

And in a more in-depth summary of the trio`s work, professor of neuroscience Carlos Ibañez from the Nobel Assembly, which awarded the prize, noted that “the building blocks of a circadian system consist of a self-sustained 24-hour rhythm generator or oscillator, setting or entraining mechanisms that link the internal oscillator to external stimuli (referred to as zeitgebers, i.e., timekeepers), such as light, and output mechanisms to allow the timely scheduling of physiological processes.”

Ibañez further noted that at one point the Laureates’ efforts probed whether “light-sensitive channels” are involved in the dissipation of PER.

He also noted that Hall and Rosbash co-authored a 1998 paper with others, looking at how the CRY gene and its related cryptochrome proteins work as photoreceptors for blue light that help reset the circadian rhythm.

Ibañez concludes, “The discovery of self-sustained transcription/translation feedback loops as the central component of the molecular mechanism by which clock genes control circadian oscillations in cells and tissues has led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how organisms anticipate and adapt to the regular daily environmental cues such as light. Since the seminal discoveries by the three Laureates, elucidating a fundamental physiological mechanism, circadian biology has developed into a vast and highly dynamic research field, with important implications for our health and wellbeing.”

Certainly, there is now plenty of research looking into light`s role — including that of artificial LED light — as both villain and hero in circadian health. And LED lighting vendors are in the early days of selling so-called human-centric lighting (HCL) systems, also known as circadian lighting. LEDs Magazine has reported on many developments, and will soon publish a two-part feature examining HCL in the workplace. That series follows last year`s two-part report, when we looked at early successes of HCL in healthcare and in the office.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Karolinska Institute is a medical university. You can read their announcement of the 2017 award here, and the more in-depth account by Ibañez here. The Nobel Prize in Physics, won by Nakamura and his cohorts in 2014, is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist (markhalper@aol.com).

Source:LEDS Magazine

Osram buys Digital Lumens; Cree results, Apple patents

Published on:August 23, 2017

Truly sees large demand for PMOLED displays, to dramatically increase capacity by next year

OLED maker Truly Semiconductor, based in Hong Kong, sees a large increase in PMOLED demand in the near future, and the company is executing an ambitious PMOLED capacity expansion plan.

Truly is currently operating two production lines: the P1 and P2 lines, both 2.5-Gen and with a monthly capacity of 625K and 1.25M pcs (Truly counts its capacity as per 1″ displays). Truly has set out to build two new production lines. The P3 line which is a 2.5-Gen line with a capacity of 3.13 million 1” panels monthly is almost ready and will start mass production by the end of the month.

The P4 line has the same capacity (3.13 million 1” / month) and will enter mass production by the end of 2018. The ramp-up will be gradual of course, these are the final capacity numbers. Truly says that each line will cost around 100 million RMB, or $15 million.

Truly currently produces mostly regular PMOLED displays, ranging in size from 0.48″ to 3.08″. The company also produces two standard transparent OLED displays (both segmented, one for the automotive industry and one for rifle sights and night vision devices).

 

Truly segmented transparent PMOLED rifle sight

Truly is also developing flexible (curved) PMOLED displays, which should enter mass production by the end of 2018. Truly already produced some samples of its curved OLEDs. In 2016 the company produced 1.6″ 128×24 white panels that has a curvature radius of 40 mm. Truly also produced 1.4″ 128×16 white curved panels. The whole thickness of these panels is less than 0.3 mm. The panels can be curved about 10 times.

Truly is also developing more PMOLED technologies, including on-cell touch panels which will be brighter, thinner and simpler panel compared to current PMOLEDs with a touch layer on top. Mass production of these panels is expected by the end of 2017. Finally Truly is aiming to reduce the thickness of its panels in the near future using new technologies such as thinner substrates and other components such as flat encapsulation. Truly refers to these panels as Ultra-Thin PMOLEDs.

Truly estimates the entire PMOLED market at around 10 million 1” displays each month. The company’s current market share is around 15%, and it aims to increase this share to around 40% by the end of 2018. Of course other players are not sitting still – we also know that RiTDisplay aims to increase capacity.

Truly 4.5-Gen AMOLED fab photo

Truly recently started mass producing AMOLED displays, in its 4.5-Gen AMOLED fab that has a monthly capacity of 15,000 substrates. The company currently produces small AMOLEDs for wearables and also smartphone-sized displays. In July 2017 Truly signed an agreement to construct a $6 billion USD 6-Gen LCD+AMOLED line in Meishan, Sichuan. The Meishan AMOLED Fab will begin construction in October 2018 and production will begin in 2021.

If you are interested in using Truly’s OLED displays in your products, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help. You can also find most of these displays in the OLED Marketplace.

<Source : OLED-info>

Samsung to expand adoption of Y-OCTA flexible OLED displays

According to ETNews, Samsung aims to expand the adoption of its Y-OCTA touch technology which will be used in both versions of its Galaxy S9 (5.77″ and 7.22″). In the Galaxy S8, only the 5.77″ version uses Y-OCTA, the larger variant uses Samsung`s film-type touch.

Samsung Y-OCTA vs add-on touch (IHS)

Y-OCTA (which apparently stands for Youm On-Cell Touch AMOLED) describes Samsung`s On-Cell flexible (hence Youm) AMOLED touch technology. The touch sensor in Y-OCTA displays is deposited directly on the encapsulation (TFE) layer which is better than the add-on (or film-type) touch used in older flexible AMOLEDs generations. The optical features are better as the touch layer is below a polarizer and enables the use of a non-ITO grid, there`s no need for a support film (see image above) and the number of layers is lower. Samsung estimates that Y-OCTA also cuts production costs by around 30%.

<Source : OLED-info>

CoeLux harnesses LEDs to deliver California sunlight in a Copenhagen restaurant

Published on:August 11, 2017

Korea to establish an OLED light therapy R&D center

Korea`s Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the country`s Engineering Research Center (ERC) are joingly setup a new OLED light therapy engineering center.

KAIST-ERC OLED light therapy engineering center image

The new R&D center will initially target skin wound treatment and sleep disorder treatment, using flexible OLEDs to replace current LED-based solutions. In the longer range, the center will also look into dementia prevention and treatment, mild cognitive impairment solutions and other diseases.

There`s a long history of OLED-light based treatments. In 2013 Researchers from Northumbria University and PolyPhotonix developed a new OLED-based “sleep mask” that can be used to treat sight loss noninvasively. Back in 2008 OLED was suggested as a treatment for skin cancer,

<Source : OLED-info>

London connects another 28,000 street lights to wireless mesh controls

Published on:August 11, 2017

LG announced its next flagship phone will adopt a 6″ edge-curved FullVision OLED display

LG Electronics announced that its next flagship smartphone will be the first phone to adopt LG Display`s plastic OLED FullVision display. This will be the first LG phone to use an AMOLED display since the G Flex 2 in 2015, and this is the first step in LG`s plan to extend its OLED leadership from TVs to smartphones.

LG OLED FullVision teaser

The new phone (which will be the V30) will have 6″ QHD+ (1440 x 2880) display that is similar in size to the display used in the V20 – but the phone`s body will be smaller as the upper and lower bezels were reduced by 20% and 50% compared to the V20. LG further discloses that the new display will achieve a color gamut of 148% sRGB 1 color space and 1090% of DCI-P3 2. The edges of the display will be curved following Samsung`s popular edge-type phone design.

<Source : OLED-info>

Lumileds announces high-power, single-die discrete LED that delivers 1700 lm

Published on:August 1, 2017