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Technology trends – lighting for museums

Philips’ pilot for connected lighting mobile apps in Dutch museum could provide template for museums, hospitals and supermarkets of the future

Global lighting supplier Philips has announced new findings from a visitor survey conducted in partnership with the national museum for science and medicine in The Netherlands, the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden. The survey reveals that seven out of ten people prefer to receive information on their mobile devices tailored to their location when visiting a museum or exhibition.

The survey was undertaken at an exhibition at the museum that is a pilot project for Philips’ LED-based connected lighting system for indoor positioning. Museum visitors are given a tablet with a pre-installed app containing rich multimedia content about the exhibits. Acting as positioning beacons, the individual lighting fixtures transmit their location to the tablet’s camera which triggers the app at specific locations. The survey revealed that:

  • 67% of visitors liked the fact that the tablet automatically provided additional relevant information at the various information points
  • 63% of visitors said that the tablet made the visit to the exhibition more enjoyable and interesting
  • 50% of visitors aged under 50 said they would visit museums and exhibitions more often if there were tablets available to provide additional information or to guide them around a special route.

“We now know that offering a location aware and interactive experience encourages people to visit our museum more often,’’ said Dirk van Delft, director of the Boerhaave Museum. ‘’What is also really exciting and innovative is that we were able to achieve this by using energy efficient lighting, giving us a double advantage.’’

Visitors under 50, or the smartphone generation, also said they were open to trying connected lighting mobile applications in a variety of settings, with almost 50% of all respondents saying that they would like to receive location-based information and use way finding services offered via an app in hospitals, shopping centres and supermarkets.

“The survey findings show that we need to think of lighting differently. Lighting has gone beyond mere illumination. We can now deliver great quality and highly energy-efficient LED lighting that acts as a positioning grid to deliver targeted information, enriching people’s experiences of the places they visit, whether it’s a museum, supermarket, airport terminal or any large public indoor space,’’ said Jella Segers from Philips Lighting.

Philips’ lighting system works by using lighting fixtures that form a dense network that not only provide high quality light but also acts as a positioning grid. Each fixture is identifiable and able to communicate its position to an app. Data transmission is one-way only and no personal data is accessed. Communication with the smartphone or tablet is by Visual Light Communications. Philips is also trialling the technology in supermarkets in Europe.