enLight has formally been part of Innovation Martlesham for a couple of years now, although the company has worked with BT at Martlesham for a decade. But what’s the company all about?
enLight CEO and co-founder David Aarons tells us more. “Well, people think we’re all about lights and lighting, but in reality, we offer a wider and deeper technology portfolio.”
First and foremost, enLight was set up to be a connected community technology developer. The company’s smart cities technology enables existing infrastructure to evolve into scalable environmental monitoring systems across communities. enLight’s simple, cost-effective system turns lamp posts into nodes in a mesh network, which can then be equipped with sensors to monitor and control environmental conditions, creating a smart community and saving energy.
“We believe technology can address the energy and environmental challenges facing the planet right now,” says David Aarons.
But connecting cities, where people and buildings are already in close proximity, is relatively straightforward. enLight wanted to make this technology work in rural and hard-to-reach communities. “We set up a way of putting a platform together to cater not only for smart city environments, but also for towns, villages and hamlets… smaller communities,” David says.
A key tenet of enLight’s philosophy is not to be constrained by siloes or a vertical market company: the firm always looks at ways it can expand horizontally across all market sectors. Taking this approach from the very beginning enabled enLight to design a multi-tenanted, holistic, connected platform. This horizontal growth means enLight’s smart technology now covers facilities management, rail, utilities and data centres.
enLight may be categorised as a small firm, but the team has a wide and deep knowledge base, grown from decades of product design experience. This enables the whole company to see the bigger picture: for example, taking an interesting product from market sector A, combining it with an interesting product from market sector B and creating a solution for market sector C that then adapts to D, E and F. enLight’s headquarters includes facilities for in-house electronics production, 3D CAD development, embedded software and hardware design, radio frequency design and development, plus third-party product and software interface integration.
The company believes that if there is a good, reliable robust product in the marketplace already that could be integrated into their solution, then they’ll integrate it. However, if the right product doesn’t exist, or the products in existence aren’t up to the job, enLight has the capability to create a brand-new product, handling the process from initial design through manufacturing all the way to certified product.
“We get asked many times: ‘Why streetlighting?’” says David. “Well, we didn’t mean to do streetlighting.” In fact, what happened was that back in 2001, when the enLight team created a demonstrator to show the company’s wide and deep skillset, the model happened to be streetlighting. The firm wanted to showcase its abilities in power electronics, analogue electronics, digital electronics, embedded software, wired communications, wireless communications, encryption, power supply design, sensor integration, gateway connection to the internet, protocol implementation, back-end servers and web dashboard front-ends.
The demonstrator gave enLight a lot of exposure, because back then a lot of companies found it difficult just to light the lights, let alone deal with hot restrike or remotely monitor the lamp post condition.
“The Internet of Things was a natural progression,” remembers David, “because we’d been designing and developing remotely connected devices for decades.” This “natural fit” brought collaborations for enLight with companies including ARM and BT, as enLight offered a solid, robust and mature enough platform to support not just sensors but also controls, signage and advanced radio communications. The first IoT data – used for the pioneering Innovate UK Pathfinder project, back in 2010 – came from the market town of Loddon, which had already become a connected community through streetlighting.
The world calls it the Internet of Things. But to enLight, It’s only Technology.TM
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