Acuity Brands: Riding the Perfect Storm

Follow Acuity Brands on :

Greg Carter, SVP, Software Business Unit, Acuity BrandsGreg Carter, SVP, Software Business Unit The Internet of things (IoT) has the potential to redefine business. It is a pivotal technology inflection point that some call "the perfect storm of change.” While many companies are riding the IoT wave without much to show, one has earned a seat at the table in IoT business discussions: Atlanta-based Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI). The company is in-market with an ingenious new technology platform that marries solid-state LED lighting, controls, with platform software services and analytics to advance smart buildings, smart cities, smart campuses…in short…smart spaces.

An established leader in commercial indoor and outdoor lighting solutions, Acuity Brands has committed to build on its strength as a lighting innovator to develop and deliver disruptive technologies that aim to ‘transform the IoT and smart lighting landscape.’

A Brilliant IoT Solution: Atrius

Last May, Acuity Brands introduced Atrius™, which bundles its IoT framework - software and cloud platform services - under one flagship brand. Atrius delivers connectivity and intelligence to a space via a network of smart LED lighting and controls, and a software platform that gathers, unlocks and transforms raw data into meaningful information and business applications.

LED lighting is at the heart of the Atrius Framework. It is an optimal infrastructure for delivering a sensory network feeding a sophisticated IoT platform. Lights are essential building and streetscape functions, and with the onset of digital lighting, LED lights are powered and connected, and they can feature onboard intelligence. In the coming years, millions of lights will be converted to LED technology due to its enhanced lighting quality and economic advantages. So it makes financial sense for businesses to choose luminaires today that will enable the greatest impact and ROI, enhanced with a powerful, connected infrastructure that extends beyond lighting and into the IoT.

The Atrius Framework

Atrius is poised to transform LED lighting into the most reliable and scalable IoT technology infrastructure to connect systems, spaces and people. Atrius offers technologies, services and tools to build IoT solutions on top of the data collected from LED lighting and building management systems:

Atrius Sensory Network

LED lighting systems and controls (edge devices) are ubiquitous and optimally arrayed in a space. As such, they are the perfect infrastructure to support and manage a dense and scalable network of sensors that gather data in real-time about the environment, energy consumption, occupancy and activity in a space. The Atrius Sensory Network --- i.e., luminaires to entire lighting systems enabled by Atrius -- collects this data and pushes it to the cloud.

Acuity Brands has committed to build on its strength as a lighting innovator to develop and deliver disruptive technologies that aim to ‘transform the IoT and smart lighting landscape.’

An installed base of Acuity Brands networked lighting systems, encompassing more than one billion square feet, can now be upgraded to a more multifunctional Atrius Sensory Network that can supply IoT data to the Atrius Platform.

Atrius Platform

Utilizing data unlocked from the Atrius Sensory Network, building operators can leverage data analytics to optimize building operation, while deploying new, value-added building and business applications. Being a fully connected IP infrastructure, the Atrius Platform can distribute software services throughout the IoT infrastructure, from any endpoint, from the edge and to the cloud. The Atrius Platform currently comprises the following services:

• Atrius Navigator leverages two types of highly-accurate beaconing technologies built into the luminaires’ components -- Visual Light Communications (VLC) and Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) -- to enable pinpoint indoor positioning, within four inches of accuracy. Think of the benefits – making customer care more efficient by deploying sales help where needed, locating products on shelves to ensure they are fully stocked, or providing customers with indoor directions within a vast department store via their mobile devices.

• Atrius Spaces leverages occupancy data captured via lighting control networks to determine exactly how buildings are being used. It offers insights into tenant or employee occupancy and space usage within a physical room, floor or building. That information can be used to optimize space layout and resources, real time- and cost-savers for rapidly-changing businesses.

• Atrius Insights is a set of rich geospatial analytics and visualization tools for quicker, actionable decision-making based on the aforementioned data. It has particular relevance in retailing, providing dwell time analysis, path analysis and heat mapping to optimize roots, reduce checkout lines and improve workflow.

The company, committed to continuous innovation, is working on additional platform offerings, including an asset tracking service, for real-time location and status monitoring of critical equipment and resources.

The Atrius Platform comprises an ecosystem of technologies including in-house-developed, acquired and partnered solutions. Acuity Brands works with industry-leading tech partners like Qualcomm, ESRI, and Microsoft among others.
Atrius Solution Builder

Atrius Solution Builder caters to clients who want turnkey solutions with a platform for partners and developers to build custom web applications. The Atrius Solution Builder provides a “drag-and-drop” IoT application development and visualization platform, which partners can use to design custom real-time, data applications and dashboards through the data unlocked from the Atrius Sensory Network and Atrius Platform.

The Atrius Solution Builder also presents modern tool sets ensuring every user interface can be automatically optimized for enhanced user experience on any smart device. Further, it leverages visual programming technology within it to rapidly build fully responsive interfaces.

Atrius Integrated Solutions

Working together, the three Atrius Framework components comprise the core for custom solutions that address critical business challenges in a variety of industries, including:

• Atrius Retail, which allows retailers to enhance shoppers' experiences, improve store operations, and gain remarkable business intelligence.
• Atrius Office, which allows facility managers and business professionals to gain valuable insight into real-time and historical space usage to enhance space planning, building renovation, and employee productivity.
• Atrius Airport,which utilizes location-based data to improve traveler and passenger experiences, optimize staff and asset management, and enhance parking and security.
• Atrius Healthcare, which leverages location-based data to improve patient experiences in hospital campuses, and will also integrate additional asset tracking features.

IoT for Business and People

Atrius IoT offers businesses, and business technology developers, endless possibilities to connect systems, spaces and people to enhance business performance and human experience. Today, Atrius has moved well beyond the ‘proof of concept’ stage to deploying full-scale IoT applications in more than 60 million square feet of indoor spaces. With Atrius, building managers can reduce energy costs, boost comfort and security, and optimize space utilization. Employees can find an available meeting room quickly. Travelers can navigate busy airports with confidence. Shoppers can get blue dot directions to a specific product on a store shelf.

Greg Carter, Senior Vice President, Software Products Business Unit, describes a recent project at a large airport that truly brings the power of Atrius to life. During new construction and renovation, luminaires enabled by Atrius were installed to collect data and monitor three functions: waiting time at TSA lines, availability of wheelchairs and scheduling of wheelchair pushers, and locating staff for redeployment. Atrius is truly solving real world problems.

Like so many Acuity Brands innovations, Atrius began with lighting. It’s what makes the company’s approach to IoT unique. Acuity Brand sees a brilliant future in lighting-based IoT deployment…and for good reason.
- Kenneth Thomas
    June 18, 2019