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Philips challenges Apple’s iBeacon with ‘intelligent lighting system’ for shoppers

Philips looks set to take on Apple’s iBeacon technology with an intelligent lighting system designed to help shoppers find their way around a store while notifying them of special offers relevant to their location.

The Dutch tech company says its new system, which is being tested at this week’s Euroshop retail show in Düsseldorf, Germany, works with a companion app on a shopper’s smartphone and aims to give them “greater personal control of their shopping experience.”

The technology creates a dense communication network throughout a store via special lighting fixtures, each of which incorporates a location-sensing beacon. These start interacting with a shopper’s mobile device shortly after they enter the premises. Visitors will be able to bring up a map of the store on their display to more easily search out particular items, while location-based offers and information will be transmitted to the user’s phone as they move around the store.

‘Personal shopper’

Philips offers the following example of how someone might use its tech:

If a shopper plans to make a Mexican meal for dinner, the app on their smart phone can serve as a ‘personal shopper.’

It can point him or her to the aisle where they would find a jar of guacamole, or, if they preferred to make it fresh, plot a route through the aisles to the avocados, tomatoes, onions, chilies and limes. As the shopper approaches various products, the app could also introduce new brands available in the store or make suggestions for alternate recipes.

Of course, one of the drawbacks is that if your mobile is constantly bombarded with offers, coupons, “alternate recipes” and other information as you make your way around the store, reading and managing all the incoming data may end up turning your visit into an expedition rather than a brief errand, though perhaps with repeated use you’ll learn how to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Commenting on the technology, Philips’ Gerben van der Lugt said, “The beauty of the system is that retailers do not have to invest in additional infrastructure to house, power and support location beacons for indoor positioning. The light fixtures themselves can communicate this information by virtue of their presence everywhere in the store.”

While Philips hopes its system will help store visitors shop more efficiently, retailers could also benefit by building customer loyalty through targeted discounts and an improved shopping experience. Also, having Philips’ energy-efficient lighting installed should mean lower electricity bills at the end of the month.

An increasing number of tech firms and developers are looking at ways to help retailers interact with shoppers, with, for example, Apple’s iBeacon micro-location system offering similar features to store visitors, delivered by small transmitters located around the premises.

[Image: Shutterstock]


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