Tags: General Electric | Qualcomm | retailers | smart bulbs

Retailers to Beam Coupons to Cellphones Via 'Smart Bulbs'

By    |   Tuesday, 05 May 2015 03:39 PM

Next time you go shopping, don't be surprised if you discover that the store's light bulbs are spying on you.

General Electric Co. (GE), partnered up with chip-maker Qualcomm, is testing and preparing to market light bulbs which can track your location in a store's aisles, check out what displays you're looking at and zap a coupon for the products you're viewing, straight to your cellphone, MarketWatch reports.

The new bulbs, called "smart" LED bulbs, send a code signal to your cellphone by using visible light communication technology, allowing stores to transmit coupons and other promotional material directly to their customers which are customized to relate to the items that customer is contemplating purchasing.

The new technology is much more accurate than other location technology such as GPS or Bluetooth, and actually can tell what direction you're looking and pinpoint your location down to five to ten centimeters, while other location-finder technologies are accurate only to within a few meters. This means that while you're trying to decide between Corn Flakes or Cheerios, your phone suddenly might beep with a discount coupon for Cheerios, prodding you to make up your mind and encouraging your purchase.

Jeff Bisberg, global general manager at GE Lighting, told MarketWatch: "This is a new tool you can give to brands that they've never had before. For the first time, we are offering (retailers) a solution to improve (sales) and not just bottom line. We are seeing interest from retailers."

Beth Comstock, director of GE's Business Innovations division, told Streetwise Journal: "There's now a data stream from light that is going to create opportunity to be more productive."

And GE also has its "smart bulb" eye on your home, joining up with Apple's HomeKit to provide LED light bulbs that automatically adjust to your body's circadian rhythms by increasing bright, blue tones during the morning and shifting to warmer, more yellow light in the evening, to promote relaxation and a good night's sleep, TechWeek Europe reports.

Dr. Gary Allen, LED Innovations principal engineer at GE, said: "Aren't we all tuned to the good feelings on a bright and sunny day, or the feelings we have on a gloomy day? Light impacts not only our mood and wellness, but our ability to fall asleep. By changing the timing, amount (and) spectral quality of light exposure, we can avoid disrupting the body's natural circadian rhythms."

The National Institutes of Health estimate that 50-70 million Americans suffer from "chronic sleep issues" indicating a huge potential for GE's Align bulbs, which already are available for purchase.

Using Apple devices, those with Align light bulbs can adjust lighting manually.

"Lighting is how many first experiment with the idea of a smart home, and our insights show that consumers want the ability to control lighting from anywhere, automate lighting and pair lighting with other devices, like sensors, thermostats and door locks," Comstock told TechWeek Europe.

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General Electric Co. (GE), partnered up with chip-maker Qualcomm, is testing and preparing to market light bulbs which can track your location in a store's aisles, check out what displays you're looking at and zap a coupon for the products you're viewing, straight to your cellphone.
General Electric, Qualcomm, retailers, smart bulbs
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2015-39-05
Tuesday, 05 May 2015 03:39 PM
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