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Ovation: Tvilight – Streetlights That Only Burn When We Need Them.


TvilightIf you’re like me, you’ve been startled more than once in the frozen foods section of your local supermarket when the lights in the freezer mysterious turn themselves on or off.  It took me a while to figure out that my favorite store had added technology that allowed for the lighting to be switched off when there wasn’t a customer in the area to use it.

Recently, the restrooms in my office building underwent an extensive remodel and one of the upgrades was the addition of motion activated lights.  It makes perfect sense.  When there’s no one in the restroom there’s no need for the lights to be on!

Dutch designer Chintan Shah, while a student at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, invented the Tvilight system … the computer-based intelligent street lighting solution that claims to generate up to eighty percent energy savings and reduce operation and maintenance costs by up to fifty percent.  When flying overseas, Shah noticed streetlamps lighting streets that, in the middle of the night, were empty and deserted.

“I started researching.  I wondered, why are they burning?  How much does it cost?  Is this a problem?  I discovered some amazing numbers.” – Chintan Shah

lg-tvilightThe system consists of dimmable street lights (e.g. LED lighting) and a wireless sensor module which enables presence based light control.  During off-peak hours lights dim to a pre-defined level.  Upon detection of a pedestrian, bicycle, or car, all lights in the vicinity increase to full brightness.  In this way the solution combines safety with savings.  The technology required to tell the difference between people and smaller animals, like cats and mice, so that lights don’t switch on unnecessarily, has even been developed.

“I thought, why should each citizen pay for street lights that aren’t being used?  We now have a solution for that.” – Chintan Shah

Shah’s professors encouraged him to follow through with his idea and the university offered him the use of facilities and gave him financial backing to create a demonstration on campus.  Since then, Tvilight has been installed in several locations with many more to come.

The technology can be used for many reasons other than energy conservation.  Applications that allow lights to indicate the need for motorists to yield for ambulances, for example, by turning colors or flashing in advance of the arrival of emergency vehicles could save lives.

I imagine holiday light shows could be truly fantastic.

Some might find it surprising that this technology hasn’t already been perfected.  After all, the lights in our refrigerators have been turning off when we close the door for generations.

What do you think of Tvilight?  Good idea?


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From → Ovations

  1. I’m afraid I’d get spooked by the mysterious on-and-off-and-on lights and crash my car!


  2. Maybe this is a message to all of us earthlings that we should lighten up….Had to say it. :>)


  3. Sounds like a good idea to me, depending on how far in advance they turn on. If they only turn up when the car is approaching, there could be an animal in the road & you may not have time to stop. If they have it worked out so wildlife is still safe, it would be great.


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