Enlarge / We’ll keep the cloud on for you. (credit: Lunera)

The Internet of Things is a powerful concept, especially in the industrial world—but it’s also full of potential security disasters and hidden computing and networking costs. But what if all you had to do to create a secure network of distributed Linux systems—complete with location awareness and custom application support capable of supporting location-based applications like asset tracking, robotic delivery, and “smart rooms”—was to change the lightbulbs?

That’s the concept behind Lunera’s Smart Lamps. These LED-based replacements for fluorescent and other commercial lighting systems also have a full Linux server with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and 2 gigabytes of Flash storage embedded in their end-caps. The Bluetooth capability includes iBeacon micro-location services—enabling retail, medical, and industrial location services. And the Wi-Fi “enables Wi-Fi network monitoring and also extending the Wi-Fi mesh,” CEO John Bruggeman explained in an interview with Ars. “Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are like electricity and water for the digital experience.”

Lunera had previously shipped LED replacements for commercial lighting system tubes and lamps, including fluorescent and high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs. But the new Smart Lamps carry quad-core, 700 MhZ ARM-based processors with memory and storage on the same die. Configurable with a mobile application and controlled through a cloud portal via a dedicated virtual private network, Lunera’s smart lamps can sense each other and create a location-sensitive wireless network mesh using Bluetooth iBeacons—a mesh that can be mapped to CAD drawings of commercial facilities’ lighting systems. And these lamps can run Docker containers, allowing anyone to develop applications that leverage location and Wi-Fi services and what Bruggeman describes as “ambient compute services.”

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