Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Switch on to connected lighting: introducing amBX at IDEALondon

July 14, 2015


john niebel

AmBX has seen the light, and the future. The Internet of Things (IoT) start-up is one of the new entrants to our IDEALondon innovation centre and they are not short on innovation or ambition.

The start-up was founded by the engineers behind the Phillips TV “Ambilight” technology, who were driven to see where else this technology could be applied.

Through Connected Lighting (the new name for Internet of Things (IoT) enabled lighting) they want to ‘change the way the world uses light’.

As amBX approaches its first 40 days at our Shoreditch innovation centre IDEALondon, CEO John Niebel told me about their big plans for the future.

He said: “We are only at the very early stages of understanding the many ways that light can affect us – huge improvements in wellbeing and productivity are possible.

“Connected Lighting will kick-start a revolution. We believe it’s going to completely change commercial environments over the next few of years.

“Essentially we are connecting and powering LED light fittings, with Cisco UPoE networks and connecting them to the Internet.

“Implementing this alongside amBX software allows us to give lighting a whole new range of capabilities.”

John said this includes aligning office lighting with the occupants’ natural circadian rhythm. These are the physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.

On top of this, people will also be able to tune their lights to match their mood or needs.

“What we can do is give the control back to people within their buildings, whereas traditional lighting control systems usually take control away.

“The evidence shows that by giving people this control of their environment, you can make people happier and more productive.”

If it falls in-line with what amBX is expecting, Connected Lighting will have a huge, positive impact across offices and commercial spaces, housing, the public sector and beyond. In fact, Connected Lighting has the potential to be applied to just about anything.

What if you could subtly change the colour of a room through the day to make you feel warmer, and mimic the outside light? Or what if you wanted a colour to put you in a better mood? And how about if this means an organisation could slash its lighting bill by 60%? There are also potential cost savings associated with reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity.

John said this dream is fast becoming a reality, and that amBX are among the first of their kind to try and realise it.

“We want to change the way lighting is used, and change the way the world is using light,” he said.

“This will change the world. Nothing this big has happened in lighting controls for 25 years – what we are doing is totally new and so different. It’s similar to what happened with digital photography – it’s the equivalent of moving from analogue film to digital. Lighting is the last digital frontier in a building.”

This engrained passion puts John and his team right at home at IDEALondon. Their Cisco relationship began over three years ago with a rapid application incubation in the RAPTOR project, run by Cisco’s UK innovation lab CREATE.

Since then, they have collaborated with CREATE on their two-year Lighting as a Service project, which saw live amBX demos based on Cisco tech at UCL and University of Strathclyde. They are now looking to take that collaboration to the next level through locating at IDEALondon, something the team are relishing.

“I come from a corporate background, and then had my own company for a few years. But running a start-up is a roller coaster – you go from massive highs to lows within several times every day!

“IDEALondon is a really friendly environment and the people here are really keen to hear about what everyone does. For us, it was a no-brainer to apply.

“Immediately, the proximity to Cisco has been a real advantage to us, and there is lots of cross-pollination between the different start-ups. There is such a vast opportunity for potential collaborations across multiple sectors.

“It’s just great to have a really nice environment to work in and there is always something happening. Just today I’ve got a meeting with Charles from Energy Deck, and I’m seeing Bill from Asset Mapping later.

We’re thrilled to hear it’s going so well for amBX so far, and are excited to hear what else could be in the pipeline for connected lighting. Watch this space…




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