Now, an app that lets you change façade lighting from afar

May 9, 2018
Philips’ “Interact Landmark Scene” allows façade lighting managers to just phone it in when they want to change the look of a bridge, a building, or whatever.

Philips’ “Interact Landmark Scene” allows lighting managers to just phone it in when they want to change the look of a bridge, a building, or whatever.

Let’s say you’re in charge of the façade lighting and many other things at a downtown office tower. You’re nearly home after a long day’s work, having stopped to pick up milk and bread at your local convenience store. Then you realize: You forgot to instruct the top floors to turn pink and blue, as you were supposed to do.

Interested in articles & announcements on color tuning and façade lighting?

Never fear. Now you can actually phone it in. Philips Lighting has introduced a smartphone app that lets facility managers control lighting scenes from their smartphones and tablets. It can be especially useful given what Philips noted is a tendency by officials to make sudden requests for a certain façade lighting scheme.

“Architectural lighting is increasingly being used by businesses and cities to create a unique identity and engaging experiences,” said Jacques Letzelter, global business leader, public segment at Philips Lighting. “The need to be ‘on call’ and responsive to last-minute requests outside of the office is a pain point for lighting managers. The app now provides them with the flexibility to change lighting scenes at any moment and anytime.”

The cloud-based app lets users change colors, trigger light shows, and view schedules. Up until now, managers had to first log in via a virtual private network (VPN).

Philips illuminates the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge in Minneapolis, a candidate for remote lighting control via the new smartphone app.

Although the app undoubtedly makes the process much simpler, the question is whether it is secure, or whether some unauthorized person might be able to tamper with light scenes. Imagine that the Red Sox win the World Series, only to have some clever malcontent from the Bronx light up a Boston landmark in Yankees pinstripes.

It just won’t happen, a Philips spokesperson told LEDs Magazine.

“Security on our applications is something we take very seriously, and is not only embedded into our technologies, but also in our development and maintenance processes,” the spokesperson said. “From the user perspective, the access to the application has been simplified, [but] the underlying communication between the lighting system on-site, our cloud system, and our software app is as robust and secure as always, and under the hood it does uses secure communications mechanisms like VPN, https, and advanced encryption techniques.

“This app is only available to the account manager for a site, which is set up by Philips Lighting’s connected lighting operations team, and linked only to their specific site, and users that have been set-up and authorized by the account manager. Each requires a registered username and valid password to use the app,” said the spokesperson.

Philips introduced the app at the LightFair International exhibition in Chicago this week, and will make it generally available in June. The spokesperson said the app is currently “being piloted,” but did not say where.

The Philips announcement was one of many Internet of Things (IoT)-themed developments at LightFair, such as Silvair’s expansion yesterday of its Bluetooth Mesh ecosystem. LEDs Magazine will bring you more updates in our next issue and on the website.

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

About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.