With powerline company enModus in protection, a key engineer rejoins the Aurora/Gooee wireless fold

Sept. 14, 2020
Smart lighting data was traveling over standard electricity cables using enModus' Wattwave, but the company's bills caught up with it. In a knock-on effect, Aurora and Gooee look closer than ever.

A company that was leading the way in using standard power lines as a data conduit for smart luminaires has ceased operations, a development that has sent one of its top engineers back to the wireless lighting world from which he had come in the Aurora Lighting orbit, further cementing ties between Aurora and close kin Gooee.

The insolvency of Chepstow, Wales-based enModus is not related to the pandemic economy.

EnModus filed for administration a British procedure protecting it from creditors over a year ago, in August 2019. A few months prior to that, it had begun expanding from “powerline communications” (PLC) controls into becoming a one-stop shop for controls and also PLC luminaires. It had lined up Chinese OEM suppliers of luminaires carrying the enModus brand, and was in the process of working out a similar supply line with a couple of European manufacturers.

EnModus had positioned itself as an alternative to the various wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Wirepas that are competing for smart lighting business in the commercial sector, and also as an alternative to another wired technology, Power over Ethernet (PoE).

The company's Wattwave technology made use of conventional electricity cabling to carry data involved in lighting control and also in “beyond lighting” functions such as gathering information about occupancy and building use from luminaire-embedded sensors, and then routing that data to the Internet for analysis.

EnModus' strides had included a March 2019 partnership with German utility E.ON to offer the technology in Europe.

Prior to that its deployments had included a truck manufacturing plant in Motherwell, Scotland; a warehouse for fashion accessory company Claire’s; a Virgin Media technical center in the UK; and a shopping center in Watford, England.

But the company quietly filed for administration on Aug. 1, 2019.

Founder and former CEO Andy Heaton is now chief operating officer of London-based Emsol, according to his LinkedIn page. Emsol describes itself as an environmental services company using data analytics to reduce road transport emissions and ensure compliance with air and noise standards.

EnModus's demise surfaced following LEDs Magazine's recent analysis on the travails of the smart lighting business at Aurora and Gooee.

In that report, we noted that key personnel have left Gooee amid slower than anticipated growth in smart lighting, and that Aurora Lighting appears to be asserting a firmer grip on Gooee. The two companies have some common owners and a common CEO, Andrew Johnson.

One of the early departures, we noted, was that of former Gooee senior vice president of connected devices Jon Couch, who in June 2018 joined enModus as vice president of solutions.

After our story ran, Aurora informed LEDs that Couch had returned to the Aurora/Gooee fold as head of product and engineering for Aurora, reporting to MD of Europe Sebastien Bonneville.

An Aurora spokesperson told us that Couch rejoined “over a year ago,” which would roughly coincide with enModus' insolvency.

Aurora once positioned Gooee as a separate entity, in order to increase the chances of Gooee selling smart lighting hardware and software to other lighting companies.

But Aurora and Gooee are increasingly looking one and the same, an impression that appears even more the case now that ex-Gooee-ite Couch is at Aurora.

Gooee's approach to the smart lighting market has shifted over the years. It eventually de-emphasized smart lighting per se, and recast itself as a collector and analyzer of data that could help facilities managers run smart buildings, a marketing tack that Aurora also uses.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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