Apple, Qualcomm want to build a better lightbulb

111230100454-sloane-edison-story-topGeneral Electric has teamed up with Qualcomm and Apple to build digital technology and the growing appetite for data to reinvigorate its 130 year old lighting business.

GE wants retailers a way to connect with shoppers’ smartphones through technology embedded in LED light bulbs, the company said. One use of the “indoor positioning” technology could be to transmit customised coupons to shoppers depending on their store location.

GE also said it will produce an LED bulb compatible with Apple’s yet-to-launch connected-device platform HomeKit. The bulb can change colours to align with the natural rhythms of the body.

The tie-ups underscore GE’s plans to dive into the emerging and increasingly competitive market for connected lighting that integrates with smart devices.

From GE’s view it can flog more energy-efficient LED bulbs, and use sensors and other technology embedded in LEDs to the advantage of consumers, businesses and cities.

However the news is interesting as some analysts had speculated GE would dump lighting after deciding last year to sell its appliances segment and moves by Siemens and Philips to hive off lighting units. GE Lighting made about $2.5 billion last year, 2.3 percent of the company’s overall industrial sales.