July 15, 2015

Lumine helps cities see the light

Lumine Lighting Solutions’ intelligent street lighting innovation reduces energy consumption by approximately 70 per cent.
Lumine Lighting Solutions’ intelligent street lighting innovation reduces energy consumption by approximately 70 per cent.
Markku Ojala / Compic

Automated street lighting activated by presence detection promises significant reductions in energy wastage costs.

Have you ever found yourself alone walking home late one evening? No cars on the road, no one else on the footpath. Whilst it may feel like a scene from a movie, just you and the midnight quiet, does it not feel just a little bit strange that the lights are always on, illuminating the din whilst everyone else is tucked in bed? Surely it would make more sense if the area was lit up only when people were around.

Finnish company Lumine Lighting Solutions has come up with a way to tackle this problem. Reducing energy consumption by approximately 70 per cent, their intelligent street lighting solution is based on presence detection.

“We are saving energy by dimming down the luminescence in areas where there is no use for light,” says CEO Santeri Oksanen. “We are also reducing light pollution without sacrificing the comfortability and security gained by lighting.”

The wireless interlinked system works by illuminating all nearby units to a brighter level once movement is detected. Specifications are adjusted remotely via online map-based tool Lumine Manager that provides information pertaining to the system. Costly inspection rounds are also a thing of the past, with the system easily notifying maintenance teams of any problems such as lamp failure.

Simple as that.

A lightbulb appears

Given the number of sun-averse months experienced here in Finland each year, it’s perhaps no surprise that the idea first came to Oksanen a couple of years ago in the midst of winter.

Lumine’s wireless interlinked system works by illuminating all nearby units to a brighter level once movement is detected.

Lumine’s wireless interlinked system works by illuminating all nearby units to a brighter level once movement is detected.

Markku Ojala / Compic

“I was skiing and it was dark outside and I started wondering why are all these lights at full power even though there was no one outside,” he recalls. “I wondered if it should be done more smartly.”

After some time spent ascertaining the market possibilities, Oksanen concluded that “there seemed to be huge saving potential and demand also.”

Recruiting Sampo Saukkonen to assist him, together they set to work building prototypes that built upon Oksanen’s idea of presence detection.

The duo raised private equity last autumn to commence running trials of their solution. Furthering their momentum, they then received additional financing from Finnish innovation funding agency Tekes.

“The Tekes funding lowered the risk to do such development work that will not pay off immediately,” Oksanen explains. “It has been very crucial for the future of the company. As an R&D project, it has gone well; what was planned was achieved.”

Illuminating response

Lumine has successfully sold trial projects to cities around Finland, garnering a positive response. Pedestrians and cyclists have applauded its subtle nature, meeting the design goal that the system is unnoticeable.

“Currently we have ongoing projects in Joensuu, Kotka, Turku, Salo and Espoo,” Oksanen states. “We are looking for around five to ten more in Finland.”

And it’s not just local areas that are set to benefit in the future.

“We are expanding abroad, hoping to get trial projects in a few cities in Spain, Great Britain and Denmark.”

Interest is illuminating, slowly but surely. In the meantime, Oksanen is waiting patiently for the floodlight of wider acceptance to be switched on in the near future.

“Although all cities and municipalities like the idea, they are quite careful with their decisions,” he explains, keeping an eye on the bigger picture. “It takes some time to build up and win their trust that this kind of technology will work. But, as a taxpayer, at least I can say it’s good that they are quite careful about their spending.”

Text: James O’Sullivan

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