Verizon Moves into Lighting with Sensity Systems Purchase

Sept. 30, 2016
Sensity has established itself as one of the companies to watch in the race to combine lighting with data networks and build new capabilities on those combined technologies.

Verizon Communications, New York, is making a move into the edges of connected lighting systems. The wireless phone giant signed an agreement last month to acquire Sensity Systems Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., a maker of a data-gathering network platform that uses LED lighting as its foundation. Terms were not disclosed.

Verizon is seeking to add a comprehensive suite of smart city solutions enabled by its ThingSpace internet of things (IoT) platform, said a release. Sensity Systems capitalizes on conversions to LED lighting — a process that will affect 4 billion lights worldwide over the next few years, said the release — to create a high-speed, sensor-based, multi-service IoT platform. Sensity’s demonstrations of the intelligent monitoring and control made possible by its technology have been a highlight at recent Lightfair International trade shows. The demonstrations showed how the system’s sensors and cameras can track individuals and alert security to possible threats such as abandoned luggage. An early installation of its system at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2014 gained the company national attention both for the system’s capabilities and concerns raised about privacy.

Sensity has gone on to establish itself as one of the companies to watch in the race to combine lighting with data networks and build new capabilities on those combined technologies. The company now has 42 smart city installations across the globe supplied through its ecosystem partners that have enabled facility and municipal lighting owners to link energy efficiency and cost savings to the improvement of business goals such as public safety, parking control, asset management and analytics.

Bernie Erickson, regional V.P. for the Northeast region at Facility Solutions Group and a member of the Sensity Systems board of directors, said in an e-mail that the move by Verizon is consistent with the changes going on in the lighting and technology markets as connectivity takes the lead.

“It’s funny, it’s not just about ‘lighting systems’ anymore. It’s really about the IoT, and connected systems, and smart cities,” Erickson wrote. “Sensity started out making lighting fixtures to allow for proof of concept, but then exited that business and really focused strictly on the nodes and communication systems. It’s the merging of IT and lighting control and connected devices. The lines are not clearly drawn anymore, which is why Cisco and Verizon are interested in lighting, and Acuity and GE are interested in networks!”

Seeing a company such as Verizon enter the lighting space indicates a possible future direction in the lighting industry’s evolution, said Bill Attardi, a long-time lighting industry executive and now owner of Attardi Marketing. “It think this is all rooted in one thing: Lighting is not about illumination anymore.”