Editorials

Why Augmented Reality Could be the Ideal Interface for Many Lighting and IOT Apps

I recently reported on a company called Tridonic who along with Zumtobel worked with augmented and virtual reality firm Eon Reality to create an interface for their lighting control and IoT applications. (Ref: article). The interface they created was just a proof of concept. In a video posted to YouTube, a technician shows how Tridonics proof-of-concept lighting and IoT interface app can work with Augmented Reality.

In the article I quoted EON Reality CEO Mats Johansson from a press release in which he stated, “We strongly believe that Augmented Reality will be the go-to interface for the Internet of Things.” Johansson added, “AR allows humans to experience data visually and effectively bridges the man/machine divide. By moving data from computer screens to in the field of view, we are increasing efficiency and productivity for workers in a whole host of industries.” 

I absolutely agree with both statements.

Luxeon High Power

The Tridonic proof-of-concept app uses a unique pattern for each luminaire to distinguish individual lighting devices. Then, data and graphics about the luminaire such as light output and energy usage are positioned atop the actual image of the light.

In a somewhat analogous device, a scientific measurement company Gamma Scientific devised a feature for their device that overlays an actual image with a virtual representation of light distribution from a luminaire. (Ref: article). This device is one of the first products that shows a hint of what is possible with augmented reality and light measurement and monitoring.

Both the Tridonic demo and the Gamma Scientific product give the industry clues to what may eventually be possible with Augment Reality technology. But such an interface could theoretically do much more.

Inherent in individually controlling and monitoring such LED lighting is the need to distinguish between lights. Also, any control and monitoring solution should be able to tell you the location of any particular luminaire. Distinguishing individual lights with pattern recognition and finding the position of such lights in an area are both functions that augmented reality can expressly accomplish. An augmented reality app mimics an interface that most everyone is familiar with, their own eyes!

Being able to point a smartphone camera at a luminaire and having an app give you all the data about that luminaire including light output, distribution, color, and color temperature, is a powerful capability that the industry should explore.

I can envision the use of augmented reality for other potential IoT-based applications such as smart parking, or overlaying a visual representation of occupancy distribution in an office over time with actual digital images of the space to help visualize the occupancy data.

Other potential features of IoT apps could include using data about traffic and overlaying images of the streets the traffic occupies to show where tie-ups occur.

Another possible app could combine indoor positioning systems that use LED luminaires acting as location beacons with Augmented Reality to more quickly direct shoppers to items that they are looking for in a store.

They key is augmented reality’s ability to help people visualize and synthesize information beyond standard charts and graphs. Such data can combine with real-world locations in augmented reality to bring context, improve data comprehension, and show data trends in new ways. The visualization tools that augmented reality can implement can ultimately enhance the management of complex systems over areas and aid in planning and simulating changes.

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