General Electric, or GE to most consumers, has announced a new partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm to enter into the connected lighting market with a new line of bulbs and products aimed at the commercial business. The collaborative effort between both companies will seek to produce lighting using LED technology which is powered by Qualcomm chips to be sold to other companies. Those companies could then in turn use these smart, connected lights to serve up sets of specialized coupons and savings to consumers who are shopping at their stores. Although this is merely one example of what the connected lighting could be capable of, it would b a great way for retailers to connect with smartphones from shoppers, using location-based data to make sure the correct coupons are handed out.
According to Beth Comstock, GE's leader of Business Innovations, with sensors and computing chips embedded in LED bulbs GE has an opportunity to provide benefits to other businesses, cities, and consumers as well as an opportunity to sell these new connected LED bulbs, bringing them closer to a goal of having what GE calls an "Industrial Internet." GE believes that LED lighting will have a big part to play in the future innovations coming from the company, thanks to the partnership between lighting technology and software. This is also an opportunity for Qualcomm to potentially find revenue in new areas amid slowing sales of their mobile device chips due to increased competition from other companies.
This collaboration between Qualcomm and GE is not Qualcomm's first foray into the connected lighting space, as they announced a new reference design in partnership with bulb maker LIFX earlier this year during CES. This particular project would seek to offer any interested companies a way to create their own smart light bulbs without all the mess, making things nice and easy by licensing the tech from Qualcomm. Connected lighting is quite a different area for Qualcomm as they generally focus on providing mobile processors for smartphones and tablets the world over, but as the Internet of Things continues to grow and more and more people and businesses look to transition to using connected lighting and other smart home products, Qualcomm wants to be a part of this expansion and smart bulbs are an easy in before moving onto bigger things in the category.