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Oulu University and Helvar test 5G IoT lighting

Steve Rogerson
June 6, 2017
 
As part of a Finnish research project, Helvar and Oulu University have made the first successful lighting control trial over a 5G test network (5GTN).
 
The 5G mobile network promises large scale data transfer over the air, linking wireless devices to the internet with minimal latency and much higher speed than today. It also provides an optimised network architecture for M2M communications with optimised energy consumption for connected devices. This opens doors for developing IoT based services, enabling real-time applications for wireless devices for example for lighting control.
 
In the future, lighting systems in commercial buildings will play a central role in collecting and transferring data from various sensors. The data collection can be extended beyond lighting applications. Lighting is commonplace everywhere in buildings where people move and work, thus the lighting systems can be used to provide additional services such as connecting mobile devices to building management services without the need for a wifi network.
 
Helvar's ActiveAhead used in the test is one step towards the IoT. It is a fully automated, self-learning wireless lighting control system based on artificial intelligence. Using it is said to reduce the time and cost for installations and commissioning dramatically. It can act in a stand-alone mode, or it can be connected to a cloud system to provide additional services for facility personnel and end users in the building.
 
"Since 5G will play a central role for the wireless connectivity in future, we want to learn more about the opportunities with the 5G and ActiveAhead lighting control," said Max Björkgren from Helvar. “The 5G test network in Oulu is a perfect playground for these purposes.”
 
The 5GTN development environment will be used especially for vertical business use. There is already a large number of Finnish companies with whom 5G technology has been developed and will be tested in several application areas. The first new products should go to field trials this year.
 
“One of the main targets of 5GTN is to offer industry partners possibility of bring their innovations, and then develop it further jointly with research partners and ecosystem,” said Olli Liinamaa, 5GTN project manager, from the University of Oulu. “We’re more than happy to see Helvar using this possibility. We provide the test network and related skills for everyone to use. We are also welcoming companies outside the project who are interested in taking advantage of new technology in their business.”
 
Together with corporate partners, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the University of Oulu and the Centria Polytechnic will take their 5G test environment to a new stage. In the 5GTN+ project, future technology is applied to field testing even before commercial networks emerge. Thus, the opportunities offered by 5G technology will be used as early as possible. Companies have the opportunity to experiment with technology in their own application areas.
 
The 5GTN+ project aims to strengthen the position of Finnish industry as a developer of 5G technologies and applications. The project focuses on seeking clear business benefits for partner companies.
 
"The 5G test environment supports corporate product development," said project manager Atso Hekkala from VTT. “Its benefits are reflected, for example, in high-speed and reliable connections, short delays, energy savings and connectivity.”
 
One application area chosen for the project is the enhancement of assisted living and care services with sensors and 5G technology.
 
"We are developing our business to more comprehensively to take into account elderly people with memory disorder or other health problems," said Timo Kaukonen, managing director of Caritas Services. “The 5G test network offers the ability to experiment with what technology is capable of. At the same time, we can transmit our own needs to service developers.”
 
Another 5G test network exploiter is Finnish broadcasting company Yle, whose primary objective is to investigate whether 5G networks and technologies can replace existing terrestrial TV and radio broadcasting technologies. Yle has already studied the possibilities of LTE broadcasting and eMBMS and wants to move to field testing.
 
"At the same time, we want to find out how 5G is suitable for different types of production requiring high capacity, short delay, scalability for multi-size events, and flexibility for availability of solutions," said Olli Sipilä, responsible for Yle's broadcast technologies.
 
Additional partners of the project are Bittium, Caritas, Elisa, Eltel Networks, Esju, Exfo, Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, Haltian, Hartela, Indalgo, Jutel, Kaltiot, Keysight, MediaTek, Nokia, PehuTec, Polar, Sarokal, Verkotan, Yle and the city of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences. The project will continue to involve new partners and test network users.