Siemens graduates collaborate with CORE engineers to create geolocation lighting system

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CORE Lighting takes illuminating of outdoor events to the next level with GPS and Wifi-enabled innovation

Siemens graduate engineers collaborated with CORE Lighting Limited, UK’s leading wireless lighting solutions company, to develop an innovative geolocation lighting system.

These were used as part of the Green Space Dark Skies project and were seen illuminating many skylines across the UK and were featured in 20 events between April and September 2022

The Geolights have been hailed as something that could change the approach to event lighting in future – with added benefits such as being sustainable and lightweight. The original model weighed 2.5kg. To make carrying the lights accessible to people of all ages (young and old) CORE Lighting found a way of reducing the lights down to 1.5kg.

Previously 90 per cent of the product was manufactured abroad, now 75 per cent of the new model is UK-manufactured, reducing production complexity and speeding up manufacture. Meanwhile, assembly time was quickened from 75min to 35min, reducing production time by more than 50 per cent.

The innovative solution, conceived by Siemens, incorporates GPS-enabled technology to provide accurate location information for each Geolight from CORE and WiFi to communicate with the control centre.  Data is transmitted using the Internet of Things (IoT) MQTT messaging protocol over the WiFi network to report the Geolight position and receive colour commands from lightshow content provider Bluman Associates thus enabling dynamic visual effects to be created. By remotely changing the colour of the lights, each participant, or ‘Lumenator’, effectively becomes a pixel within a coordinated image of live art across the landscape. The result – impressive lighting displays that can be live streamed and recorded from the sky.

Phil Ion, Founder and Managing Director, CORE Lighting said:

“This is amazing technology. Combining the skills of our engineers and technological expertise of the young Siemens engineers we have created a revolutionary innovation. It not only creates quite a nice picture because of the speed of processing, but you could turn it into a video image. So, we facilitated catered lights to do that, and Siemens has facilitated the middle bit of the technology and the front end where the picture is created in the first place.

“Normally we produce up to 200 of these lights per month. Siemens and Walk the Plank were asking us to make 2,000 in six months, just when the world had just gone into supply chain chaos. I nearly fell off my chair. The scale of the manufacturing challenge was enormous. And that was before we considered the need for significant redesign and setup of mould tooling with new local suppliers.”

The platform for the design was an existing model of light CORE manufactured that was used by the event industry to light up buildings.

The engineers from CORE Lighting worked with Siemens to integrate the processing technology into its existing lights being manufactured in Gloucester, using mainly UK-supplied parts.

A dome feature was added to the new lights and diffuser to make the beam angle wider and increase visibility.

The team also redesigned the handle to enable more flexibility in how it could be used.
A handle with additional fixtures was added to enable it to be carried and attached to equipment like kayaks, bikes, and climbing gear.

In addition, much of its content has been changed from previous versions to recyclable aluminium and steel away from plastics. These factors have massively reduced the CO2 footprint from earlier products.

Geolights can be used to showcase outdoor spaces while being a visual art piece that can be enjoyed from the ground and from the sky. Each individual lamp being carried comes together to create something special and the Siemens technology makes this all possible.

Annabel Ohene and Nathaniel Fernandes were the two Siemens graduate engineers that developed the innovative GPS technology for the Geolights. They were also supported by students Sam Rhodes and Sam Newton from Sheffield University.

Annabel Ohene, graduate engineer at Siemens said:

“Incorporating the geo-positioning technology means that the people can be anywhere, but the pattern will still be coherent – each person will become a pixel in a larger image of live art.

“It has been very challenging, but I think Siemens is really very good at empowering graduates to try and own things. Experience is an important factor but, with the right support, engineering apprentices and graduates are quite capable of taking on such responsibilities.”

Nathaniel Fernandes, graduate engineer at Siemens said:

“Working on this project really tested what is possible when it comes to self-locating lighting systems in an outdoor environment. It has been great to work on something that has a fantastic social purpose, but also has potential applications in industries like manufacturing and logistics too where outdoor geolocating can support automation. It is a perfect example of technology that can benefit organisations as well as people.”

Mark Higham, Head of Process Automation, Siemens Digital Industries UK & Ireland said;

“We are proud of how our young engineers have contributed in developing these innovative Geolights. These are brilliant minds whom we are nurturing as future engineering business leaders that will help us find sustainable solutions to our current and future challenges.

“Finding practical solutions to real world challenges is at the heart of what we do at Siemens and the Geolights is proof of how we use technology to make life easier.”

The technology itself is a milestone for lighting in events – it means event directors can coordinate and automate displays in outdoor environments in new and interesting ways.

Founded in Gloucester in 2008, CORE Lighting design and manufacture innovative battery powered, low-energy LED wireless lighting solutions. These include lighting for events, powerful but efficient area floodlighting and solar recharging solutions for many of these products.

“Seeing the lights used the first time brought a lump in my throat. It was a very special moment seeing people carrying them and having a great time. Given everything we had been through during the pandemic it was a moment of real celebration. The success of the project means we can look at new markets to expand our product including home users,” added Phil.

CORE supports many types of arts organisations, including event companies, theatres, museums, galleries, artists and is now looking to sell the new compact innovative lights to home users that want to give the outside of their house a new lit-up look.

Manufacturing its products in the UK and exporting internationally, CORE Lighting pioneered the battery powered wireless uplighters as one of the first innovators globally, which have been further developed for Green Space Dark Skies with Siemens’ technology.