Yet the answer isn't simply to flood workplaces with more light — even higher-quality light — indiscriminately.
Rather, it's to tune that light just right. That's where historical performance data can come in, combining with workers' preferences to help guide IoT-driven lighting deployments on an informed basis. What does, say, five years' worth of information about the connection between a lighting regime, on the one hand, and productivity and safety numbers, on the other, tell us about how we should be illuminating our shop floor?
In a 2016 report, the US Department of Energy acknowledged the opportunity for connected lighting beacons and traffic monitoring to improve safety and efficiency in a variety of settings, from logistics centers to retail and transportation hubs and beyond. The key, the report made clear, is in lighting's “ubiquity." Lighting apparatus is everywhere, all the time, and thus a great vehicle for a data-collection system that doesn't miss a thing.
A data transmission technique called Li-Fi is an integral component in that system. It allows connected lighting to carry vital data signals in crowded industrial environments where loads of devices are competing for space on the Wi-Fi spectrum, overcrowding frequencies and generating interference. And so innovators are turning an eye to Li-Fi, and how to improve it.
BMW and its technology partner, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, recently concluded a three-year experiment with infrared LED for data transmission. The project represents a twist on the usual Li-Fi arrangements, which rely on imperceptible variations in visible light. Completely invisible to the human eye, BMW and Fraunhofer's infrared Li-Fi carried manufacturing inspection images between a manufacturing robot, its safety barrier, and its controllers — all while avoiding garbled reception.
The project is an indication of the care that enterprises are putting into getting the data-intensive industrial IoT right.