We plan to aggressively expand our retail presence in India by 25-30 per cent in the next two to three years

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Sumit Joshi, vice chairman and managing director of Philips Lighting India

Modern workplaces have transformed from being task-oriented autonomous desk spaces to flexible collaborative working areas. In an interaction with Baishakhi Dutta of Electronics Bazaar, Sumit Joshi, vice chairman and managing director of Philips Lighting India, shares how the Internet of Things is changing offices, with the introduction of connected lighting which is driving new ways to collaborate, innovate and socialise.

EB: What are the trends in modern lighting for commercial areas?
Connected lighting enables employees to use their smartphones to control aspects of their work environment, such as lighting and air conditioning. Additionally, it allows building managers to monitor and analyse building usage data in real-time, enabling them to identify efficiencies and control other facilities such as air conditioning, heating and meeting room availability. We also see an increasing demand for linear solutions that can be aligned with furniture, thereby eliminating the need for task lighting.
As real estate prices escalate, building managers are trying to enhance space optimisation by decreasing the ceiling height to make room for more floors within the same building. Therefore, lighting must be optimised accordingly, to ensure good illumination. The use of prefabricated materials has also drastically reduced construction time for new office buildings, as a result of which we see an increasing demand for lighting that can be easily installed within a shorter duration.

EB: How is human-centric lighting achieved and how does it improve employee productivity?
There is a growing trend towards achieving a balance between comfort and technology. Smart and connected offices allow companies to have human-centric lighting, which enhances employee well-being and comfort. This is achieved through better lit environments that also include ample access to daylight, which is proven to have a positive effect on employee performance.

Human-centric circadian lighting systems incorporate lighting into the everyday work environment, following the sun’s natural pattern. This benefits occupants by creating a comfortable environment and actually increasing productivity. At the same time, the office should be equipped with technology that enhances employee productivity, such as remote-controlled lighting.

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EB: Is Philips Lighting incorporating the same technology for home consumers?
Philips Lighting has a consumer-centric connected range of lights called Philips Hue, which is an IoT product. Philips Hue embeds connected technology in a manner that enables home users to control the lights’ brightness and colour through an app on their smartphone or tablet. The aim is to provide the right light for all in-home activities – to read, relax, concentrate, sleep, exercise or entertain. Hue also allows for out-of-home or remote operation, which ensures that users are in complete control of the lights at their home, even while travelling.

EB: Do share the story behind Philips Lighting becoming Signify.
On May 16, 2018, we launched our new company name – Signify, which will be adopted in India in the beginning of 2019. However, we will continue to use the Philips brand for our products, under an existing licensing agreement with Royal Philips. The change in company name is an opportunity to introduce a new corporate look and feel that is uniquely our own, and will serve to further unite our 30,000 employees across the globe. Signify is full of positive references that stem from its root and relate to what we do:

  • Light is a universal sign for safety, well-being and innovation.
  • Light works as a signal to communicate, transmit and receive data – it is a new intelligent language.
  • Light has a significant impact on the world of today and tomorrow.

EB: How much does your LED product portfolio contribute to your overall turnover?
Globally, 65 per cent of our sales are LED based and this share is growing steadily. The professional usage of LEDs has increased exponentially, as compared to consumer lighting products, as the ROI is much higher in the case of the former owing to the huge scale.

EB: Tell us about your future expansion plans.
India is an important and strategic market for us and we plan to aggressively expand our retail presence in the country by 25-30 per cent over the next two to three years. We are also expanding our retail distribution spread in a big way across India, as demand for lighting is growing across Tier 1 and Tier 2 towns.

To address the growing demand and preference for smart home lighting solutions and connected lighting, we have recently inaugurated two Philips Smart Light Hubs, in Chennai and Lucknow. These stores showcase an impressive display of over 600 world-class lighting products and concepts, including Philips Hue, our Web-enabled LED home lighting system.

EB: What are your strategies to increase your market share in the coming years?
We connect light and people through products, systems and services that make lives safer, more inspired, productive and comfortable. In India as well, we aim to transform the lighting landscape through our connected lighting systems for homes, professional users and public spaces. We have a significant presence in the country through our extensive retail network, and a wide product portfolio designed and developed exclusively for the Indian market.

EB: How are you contributing to: a) the Make in India initiative, and b) to a fall in power consumption in the country?
We have a strong manufacturing footprint, which includes both direct and indirect units spread across India, in addition to our two R&D units in Bengaluru and Noida. In fact, 98 per cent of what we sell in India is designed and made in India. We have introduced several lighting innovations in the consumer LED lighting space, such as a first-of-its-kind T-shaped LED bulb that can be installed in existing bulb sockets; it offers better light distribution compared to a normal LED bulb.

To answer the second part of the question, lighting accounts for 18-20 per cent of the total power consumed in the country, and we at Philips can help to reduce this electricity use by up to 80 per cent with our connected lighting solutions. By improving the energy efficiency of LEDs, we are helping to meet the needs of a growing, urban population while decreasing lighting’s share of electricity consumption.

Many remote parts of India still have no access to traditional means of power distribution. There are several parts of the country where it is not feasible to provide grid-connected power because the cost of laying the wires far exceeds the cost of generating electricity. This means that around 40 to 50 million households in the country are deprived of basic power supply. With our solar lighting solutions, we are providing lighting access to these households in the remote parts of the country.

EB: What further technological innovations do you foresee in lighting?
We recently announced the launch of Light Fidelity (Li-Fi), a technology in which high quality LED lighting provides a broadband Internet connection through light waves. Li-Fi is similar to Wi-Fi in the sense that it is a two-way, high-speed wireless technology for data transfer.
However, the innovative concept of Li-Fi is that it uses light waves instead of radio waves to transmit data. Philips Lighting is the first global lighting company to offer Li-Fi-enabled luminaires from its existing office lighting portfolio. Our Li-Fi-capable products can deliver a broadband connection speed of 30Mbps, a speed sufficient to stream several HD quality videos while on video calls.

We have also launched a new Internet of Things (IoT) platform called Interact, this year, which is our latest innovation in the lighting space. The Interact series of lights can generate and upload data to the Interact IoT platform. These connected lighting systems, offering a unified user experience, feature applications that address industry-specific verticals, as listed below:

  • Interact City for public space lighting, roads, streets, pedestrian areas, parks and plazas
  • Interact Landmark for architectural lighting
  • Interact Office for offices and commercial buildings
  • Interact Retail for large retail and food stores
  • Interact Sports for stadiums

EB: What are your market projections for Li-Fi? How far have you progressed in implementing Li-Fi in your solutions?
In the next five years, we see immense potential in Li-Fi technology. With advances in speed and efficiency and with significant cost optimisation, we believe that in specific segments like defence, high-end offices, hospitality, etc, we will see 8-10 per cent of the market moving with Li-Fi enablement. Of course this will depend on several factors like government regulations, standardisation, mobile and laptop enablement for Li-Fi, etc.

EB: How are lighting solutions evolving with respect to the smart cities concept? Tell us about your solutions and success stories in smart city deployments.

Urban populations are growing rapidly and 60 per cent of the world’s population is predicted to be living in cities by 2030, and there will be close to 70 billion light points by that year. Philips Lighting is looking into the city of 2030 to explore four scenarios that demonstrate how future lighting technology can deliver more sustainable, better-connected and more enjoyable cities. These are given below.

Connected streets: Connected lighting infrastructure will collect and distribute data, and improve city services such as lights, traffic, air quality, public safety, parking and other location based services. Autonomous vehicles will navigate roads safely, using and communicating with sensors in streetlights that scan the road and pavements, and provide a frame of reference by transmitting situational information to augment the vehicles’ on-board sensors.

Interactive public spaces: Scarcity of space will compel cities to extend public spaces underground, with a seamless transition made possible by lighting that mimics natural daylight and makes people feel comfortable. The digital lighting systems can send positional data to help drones navigate and deliver items, while responsive light walls display art and foster citizen interaction and creativity.

Sustainable city farming: Beneath the city and in unused spaces, urban farms that use little water and no pesticides, will grow plants and vegetables sustainably —reducing the distance between the farm and your fork, increasing food security, ensuring provenance, and protecting precious natural resources.

More personalised living: In the home of 2030, lighting will be able to synchronise with everything from your doorbell to your television and music, and will be fully adjustable to individual preferences. It will anticipate your needs and complement your sense of well-being, energise you, relax you and keep you safe.

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