Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA) have created a research alliance for an initial term of five years and $25 million. The two say it will ultimately support MIT research in the company’s two core business areas of health care and LED lighting technology.
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With the alliance, the North American research headquarters of Philips will move to the Kendall Square area in Cambridge. The exact location was not announced, but the company has said that it is choosing the new location based on its concentration of startups and research labs—especially in the biomedical area—and for its proximity to MIT and the research projects that will be supported by the alliance.
While Philips has not announced all of the projects that will receive research funding through the alliance, the company has already met with representatives of several different labs and centers on campus, and has solicited research proposals. Philips expects that approximately 70% of its research funding will be allocated for studies of health diagnostics and imaging, while the other 30% will support lighting research.
Alan Berger, a professor of urban design and landscape architecture, says the alliance will focus, in part, on how to use lighting devices to generate data that can be used to help plan energy usage, from individual homes to entire urban areas. Such efforts could harness the ubiquity of lighting, making lighting fixtures into data-collection and transmission devices, as well as light sources. For example, lighting could be used to monitor pollution, measure building occupancy, or detect emergency conditions such as fires or flooding.
Lights could also be used to convey information: For example, if flooding is seen in an area, streetlights could change color to direct people to evacuation routes, Berger says. Lights could also monitor traffic, so city planners would know which areas are most heavily used and may need more resources.
“The projects will span the whole Institute,” Berger says. And the resulting products, he says, should find applications globally: “These technologies can be deployed in places that have very little infrastructure.”
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Source: MIT News