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In episode 32, we are joined by Bastiaan de Groot – CEO, Ingy🌱 to find out how connected lighting is being used to power a multitude of interesting use cases in smart buildings from asset tracking and indoor navigation to smart washing rooms and occupancy analytics! 🤯 🌃 💡

We launch into the episode talking about what we mean by smart building control solutions and how a multitude of applications involving connected lighting can power smart building innovations. We then jump into the major use cases that connected lighting has moved towards, lensing in on connected lighting for assets tracking and smart washing rooms! Finishing the episode, we consider the barriers for smart buildings and connected lighting and the most exciting new/upcoming use cases.

Sit back, relax, tune in and discover

  • Introduction to Bastiaan’s background in IoT and AI 00:2303:35 💡
  • What is the Ingy smart building lighting control solution, and what does this mean for innovation? 03:3509:26 🌃
  • What are the major use cases you have seen connected lighting move towards? –Key case Study: Asset tracking using connected lighting. 09:2614:15 💡
  • How are you able to support a wide range of applications across so many industries? 14:1518:59 🌃
  • What barriers are there that need to be overcome for connected lighting to hit its full potential? 18:5922:58 💡
  • What new and upcoming smart building uses cases are you excited for? 22:5829:00 🌃


Episode Transcript

Tom White:
Welcome to the IoT podcast show. I’m your host, Tom white today I’m joined by Bastiaan de Groot of INGY.

INGY is a top 50 EU prop tech startup developing innovative lighting solutions for smart and energy efficient buildings. INGY uses lighting as the backbone of smart buildings, enabling applications, such as asset tracking, indoor navigation, occupancy analytics, and much more. Bastiaan, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Bastiaan De Groot:
Thank you, Tom. It’s a pleasure to be here and I must say a great summary I think as a picture for our business.

What is your background in IoT?

Tom White:
Yeah. Thank you very much. Yeah. I’m available to rent for these things, if you ever want me to intro anywhere else, you can just give me a call. Bastiaan, clearly a really interesting business. We were just talking offline just a moment ago about some of the work that my company does in lighting and what have you, but could you start by just explaining what your background is in IoT?

Bastiaan De Groot:
Yeah, so, I’ve got a quite diverse background. I always tend to joke that I can read both seek out and a profitable statement. So I’ve got both an engineering degree in artificial intelligence and an executive MBA from India.

So, I can really stand on both sides in terms of IoT, I’ve worked in a myriad of businesses. I’ve worked quite a few years in consulting in London where I worked in corporate [inaudible 00:01:50], and there I worked mainly on the technology side of things. So I worked for eon on all kinds of smart home businesses and smart energy businesses.

I worked on augmented reality for Airbus or Eudes but Airbus is the more known name. I actually built a smart home business for La post. Will you believe it? It never launched, but I would say that that was not due to my effort and yeah. And for Vodafone British telecom Philips, so you have a whole range of different IoT businesses.

And then I ended up running it and becoming the head of strategy for fatal Sylvania, which is one of the largest lighting companies. And there, I obviously specialize really into the application of IOT [inaudible 00:02:45] within the lighting domain.

Tom White:
Right. Okay. Oh, fantastic. Yeah, really varied background. Right? It’s fairly similar, I would say, to myself because I actually studied embedded engineering at university and then moved much more into the commercial side of the business. But yeah, I can still probably read a little bit in a compiler. I don’t know if I can actually get code to compile anymore without being very buggy, but probably a similar vein to yourself. I’d say Bastiaan.

Bastiaan De Groot:
Exactly. That’s why a very particularly set, I can read [crosstalk 00:03:23] I can still write it. Although I am convinced that I would still be able to do it. I think I would have to sit down for a few weeks and take a refresher.

What is the INGY smart building control solution?

Tom White:
Yeah, sure, absolutely. So, Bastiaan, could you talk a little bit about energy, smart building, lighting and control solution and what that means and how you’ve developed it?

Bastiaan De Groot:
Yeah, so really, we see… We solve one major problem and that is that if you want to deploy smart buildings, you typically need to deploy a lot of hardware in your building. All right? And the whole wide concept stands really great until you start looking at the cost of deploying all these sensors across the building which means you either have to put PowerPoints everywhere and pull a lot of cables to power those sensors, or you have to deploy battery power to [inaudible 00:04:17] and then, in any business case, you have to accommodate for basically hiring two or three people full-time per building just to replace the batteries, right?

So neither of those work. And then, the second problem you have with deploying the sensors is getting the connectivity done, right? So either again, you deploy a wired network throughout your entire building, dedicated to the IoT, or you use existing high bandwidth communication technologies, but that means your sensors will become too expensive or you use something like Laura one or anything else, but that typically doesn’t have the reach inside the building.

So how do we solve this? We use lighting, right? So lighting is deployed across the entire building and there’s an extremely high density, right? Every five or six square meters, you have a light point and it’s always mains power. So if you integrate the hardware, the backbone of your smart building inside the lighting, you actually have all these problems solved, right?

Because once the lighting’s installed, your hardware is already installed. And actually you don’t need extra communication because you already need a wireless chip in your luminar just to do the lighting control. So if you just do that a bit smarter and you make sure you can use that communication network also for other IoT applications, you can basically create a dedicated IoT backbone in your entire building without having to create any additional costs to the lighting. And then what we do is we build a whole set of applications on top of that, right?

So we can do, of course, occupancy analytics, because we have presence sensors to turn the lighting on while we can actually get that data out, we can give you a heat map of which rooms have been used or are being used in real time. We can do asset tracking so we can put tags on objects and locate them inside the building with about two meter precision, we can do indoor navigation because the mobile phone can talk to the luminator and locate itself.

But also we can add, for example, wireless battery sensors to do climate monitoring, because all they need to do is a little solar cell to take a measurement and they just ping it out. And then one of the luminares will pick it up and they will then create a connection to the backbone, which you could never do with any other wireless technology, because it’s just too power hungry and we have perfect coverage, right?

People try to do the same thing, for example, with wifi. But yeah, once you start doing asset tracking on wifi, you have one access point every two, 300 meters. Square meters. It’s just not enough. We have one every six meters. Every six square meters. So we can just deliver so much more accuracy on the asset tracking in the indoor navigation.

Tom White:
Yeah. I mean, that’s staggering, isn’t it? Because I have a fairly good understanding around adaptive wifi solutions. And we’ve had people on the show in the past, such as Cees Links from, Qorvo generally considered one of the founding fathers of wifi. Right? And when you look at mesh networking and wifi. In home and adaptive wifi, certainly wifi six.

Some of these intelligent systems that they use about monitoring and also, from a, not so much, asset monitoring, but proximity censoring, where you check for breaks in the connection, et cetera, I think you’re right. It’s the fact that sometimes they’re so dispersed as well, that you need more right? In order to accurately predict.

And it’s interesting, you should say, because to me as a novice, one every six meters sounds like a lot. Right? It sounds like a lot to have that. What is the reason for that? Is it just based around clarity and accuracy of the information that comes back?

Bastiaan De Groot:
No, I mean, just look up to your ceiling. How many light points do you have in the room you’re sitting now?

Tom White:
Well, yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah.

Bastiaan De Groot:
Just, I mean, if you don’t have a light point every six square meters, you just don’t get a equal lights distribution in your room. So yeah, if you just take a, how do you call it, the systematic… Like a tile ceiling, right?

You would see that every sort of 10, 20 tiles, would be a light point and each of those, we equip with a wireless chip to be able to control it and connect the sensor. So it’s already there. I mean it’s… For any other application, it’s complete overkill, right?

Tom White:

Bastiaan De Groot:
I mean, I think what we see for our asset tracking, we need maybe one every hundred square meters, but yeah. We already have it because we basically get it for free because it’s integrated in the lighting hardware and the lighting hardware needed the communication chip anyway. So it’s not getting any more expensive.

Tom White:
Yeah. No, absolutely. I mean, if the infrastructure is already there, then you may as well use it, right?

Bastiaan De Groot:

What are the major use cases you have seen connected lighting move towards recently?

Tom White:
Yeah. I get it. So Bastiaan, lighting has evolved massively from just a simple functional mechanism towards intelligent systems that can support a wide range of smart building applications. As you mentioned, including asset tracking, indoor navigation and control monitoring, what are the major use cases you have seen in connected lighting moved towards recently? What are most people looking for their systems to do?

Bastiaan De Groot:
Well, so I think it’s an interesting question in the way it’s formulated, right? Because you actually say, what are most people looking for? If I would say, what are most people looking for, they’re probably looking to turn their lights on and off.

Tom White:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay.

Bastiaan De Groot:
So, we are really in this stage where we really know better what our customer needs than what our customer know that they need. If you look at what our customers are responding to the most, once we explain them what is possible, what they never even would have thought of themselves that the lighting was possible to do, then I would say it’s asset tracking is really our lead application.

And this is also the application that we are pretty much unique in, right? So a lot of people come with stories about, the future of the smart lighting.

But what we see is we actually are able to deliver what others consider to be the future now. And asset tracking is really what is really hitting really hardly with us because we can deliver so much value compared to others, right? So if you don’t use the lighting, you want to deploy asset tracking the cost is humongous, because you’ve got to deploy an infrastructure, and you’ve got to deploy it with a very high density.

And then secondly, the benefit from asset tracking is humongous, especially in hospitals, right? So we see that our customers, they can save about anywhere between five and 15% on the amount of medical equipment they need, just because they know better where it is. Right?

So if you know exactly where everything is, you just need to [inaudible 00:11:45] well, and you take a bed.Like a hospital bed is costing you 10,000 euros. So if you need 15% less beds that’s 1,015 hundred Euro saving per bed [inaudible 00:11:57] the recertification. The maintenance cost of those beds. The time spent looking for them and that all because you just put a tack on it that costs you a few tenths of euros. So that’s a really, really strong business case.

And then, the second business case within healthcare is certification compliance, right? So you can imagine how medical equipment needs to be certified every six months. But if you have tens of thousands of drip feeds, do you really think that they can be able to find every last drip feed that they need to certify? So they always have a noncompliance, right?

This is just a rather unkept secret fact but it’s true. And we help them to get one hundred percent compliance, right? Because we can help them just make a print. Here is all your drip feeds that need certification. And this is their exact location right now at this moment. You can just go and pick them up.

And then, other key ones… Actually one that is getting a lot of traction that you might not expect is smart washing rooms. So, we can, of course, extract the information about which washing rooms are used. How often they’re being used, because the lights are on when people use bathrooms. We know exactly. And that’s actually, especially for public buildings.

A key concern in their customer satisfaction right? So we can tell them exactly that bathroom has been used a lot, go and deploy someone there. And that bathroom, nobody’s been there. We can actually install wireless battery, free feedback buttons so people can press if they want it to be cleaned. So if you get four or five of those button presses, you know, you probably need to go to that bathroom and clean it.

So that’s an interesting one. And then, the other is a whole mirror of other use case. But if you ask me to pick one, asset tracking is the one.

How are you able to support such a wide range of solutions across so many industries?

Tom White:
Yeah. I mean, it’s… Thank you for that. It’s so interesting because, how is it that you’re able to support such a wide range of propositions across so many industries? Because it’s almost countless, isn’t it? It’s just so [crosstalk 00:14:30]

Bastiaan De Groot:
It is. It is. And this is really… Sorry, I’m now going to do a little bit of my MBA speak.

Tom White:
That’s okay. That’s all right.

Bastiaan De Groot:
So, really what we deploy in the total core is the ecosystem approach, right? So we are not a vertically integrated solution provider. This is where I see most of our competitors go wrong. They’re all trying to build a vertically integrated solution, which means they have to build the entire cloud application in all the sensor hardware, all the lighting hardware integration, and you just can’t. Nobody can manage that. It’s too wide.

So what we do instead, is we actually build only a very small portion. So we build the embedded software that runs inside the luminar. And we licensed that to luminar manufacturers who then build Luminares out of it. And for them, they have a very attractive proposition, because we offer them a fantastic lighting control system for a very sharp price, because we don’t make our money off the lighting control system.

And they can sell the story to their customers that this is actually making their building IoT ready and they can employ all these beautiful use cases. But for them, it’s really about the lighting control system and they sell it to lighting people. And then, we connect to another part of our ecosystem as the portal providers, right? So we see a lot of our competitors.

They say, oh, we just make the hardware so that we can hook everybody in portal. Limiting you in a lot, right? Because everybody says, oh, cloud development is easy. Well, it’s not because we… The cloud applications we support, they range from asset management for our hospital, right? Bang that’s a whole industry. With 30 years of experience, people building software packages just to manage assets in hospital, to room booking systems and integrated facility management systems that handle the whole facility management. Right?

Where we can insert jobs to clean a certain area, or to make a room booking based on occupancy or to withdraw room booking because somebody booked the room, but there’s nobody in the room. So somebody else can do it. To logistic warehouses where we’re integrated with SAP. Right?

And I almost see competitive loss that they obviously haven’t thought it through enough, but what they really are saying is, yeah, we’re going to build a cloud solution that’s going to build asset tracking for our hospitals. It’s got to do room booking. And it’s got to do logistic management because we supply the data from the sensors.

And it’s like, you realize you just made through major industries with multi-billion companies, making solutions for this, and you’re going to compete with it? It’s crazy. So instead, we’re saying, let us focus on the software. We are an embedded software company, we provide the API, and we can provide that same information to all those three different systems, right.

For us, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a logistics company or a healthcare solution. We just tell you tech five seven oh two nine is now in room two BA nine oh three. And that’s what our API just puts out. Whether that’s a healthcare solution or an industrial solution, doesn’t matter.

Lighting are all same thing. Our lighting control system just works. Whether it’s in a luminar for a hospital or for a logistics vendor. And then we have built an all ecosystem sensor providers right? [inaudible 00:17:55] that part, which provides a lot of… which provides the connectivity.

But then we partner with dozens of companies that make all kinds of sensors, right? So sensors, infrared distance sensors to make… To measure the distance in a towel dispenser. Power sensors, to measure power of subnets. I mean, we’ve got all these crazy sensors.

If we would have to develop all of those, we… You just can’t, right? So all these places we’re doing an ecosystem approach and we just bring it all together on our software and then let others expand on that. And that allows us to take a lot of stuff also off the shelf that was developed for super pinpointed solutions. We pull this in and then it all runs through our [inaudible 00:18:51] the binding factor.

What barriers does connected lighting need to overcome to reach it’s full potential?/h2>

Tom White:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s staggering really, isn’t it? Lighting has advanced technologically, so drastically. Connecting lighting, it’s just seen such a huge growth so quickly. What types of barriers has energy seen and need to overcome for connected lighting to hit its full potential Bastiaan?

Bastiaan De Groot:
Well, I think… Yeah, I think there’s many, but I think, if you name a few, then one of it is the two buyers that we have to deal with. Right? So, we very clearly identify we have a lighting buyer who wants to buy a lighting solution. And the funny thing is, you say, look, lighting made so many steps.

And if you ask the people in the lighting industry, they would say, yeah, we have this led transformation [inaudible 00:19:44]. But really, if you show Edison a light of today, you still recognize what it does. Of course it’s led, but really… Okay. So we went from a wire in a vacuum to a wire in a gas, to gases in a tube. And now, we go to basically wires on a semiconductor scale. But in the end, it’s still, you push some electrons through solving and it starts emitting photons.

Right. And it still looks the same. And if you have people outside of the lighting industry, they’re like, well, what changed? I mean, still looks the same. So, actually the lighting industry hasn’t changed that much. And has massive issues adopting the smart lighting space, right? Because if you look at all the stuff we talked about, it’s got nothing to do with lighting anymore.

And that’s really where our biggest issue is, right? So we sell a lighting solution to a lighting player and we really… We literally have two pitch decks, right? So [inaudible 00:20:53] that one goes, we’ve got a fantastic lighting control solution. You can install it wirelessly.

It’s scalable. You can commission it with your mobile phone. You can hit all the subsidy points and incentive points to make your building super energy efficient. Oh, and by the way, it’s also creating, sort of last slide in the deck is sort of the big takeaway.

Oh yeah. And by the way, you can also use this backbone of your smart building, but that’s our lighting pitch. And then we have another pitch which goes, we can do all these fantastic things. We can do asset tracking.

We can do occupancy analytics, we can do smart wash rooms, chicken monitoring in farms, and whatever you want. And we can do that way cheaper and how can we do that? Well, you just have to find the person in your company that buys lighting and tell them to buy INGY enabled lighting.

And we really need to play those two pitches to those two different buyers and then bring them together. So it very often happens that one of our partners is talking to the lighting partner in a company. And one of the partners is talking to the smart building person in a company.

Then both those partners come to us and say, Hey, we’re talking to this company. And then we’re like, Hey, but we know somebody else that’s also talking to this company. And then we bring them together. And then they, then start bringing the people within the organization together because, typically, they don’t even know each other.

So we often connect those people in the organization and bring them together, still having a proposition for each of them. But just saying, Hey, you should… If you both just agree that you buy into it, you both have a fantastic deal from your respective value chain.

Tom White:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s fantastic. And I think some of the things that you’ve done at INGY in a relatively short space of time, a truly remarkable. Credit where credit is due to yourself Bastiaan and your team. It’s-

Bastiaan De Groot:
Thank you.

What are the new and upcoming smart building use cases?

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