Tim Youngblood   |   June 06, 2018

OSRAM Positioned to be the Leading Horticultural Solutions Provider

Osram, the semiconductor manufacturer, sees horticultural lighting as a big part of their future. Will we see more acquisitions like this soon?
Tim is a technology journalist and was an editor for All About Circuits. His specialty as a historian at Boise State University was cannabis legislation. His favorite things to write and nerd out about are experimental technology, single…

Osram, the semiconductor manufacturer, sees horticultural lighting as a big part of their future. Will we see more acquisitions like this soon?

Merging Semiconductors with Horticultural Applications

Back in May, Osram, a semiconductor manufacturer that specializes in lighting acquired Fluence Bioengineering, a company that specializes in LED grow lights. Fluence started in 2013 and is now up to around 100 employees and made somewhere in the double-digit millions in sales last year. Fluence was already using Osram's LED chips in their lighting systems, so the acquisition will allow the two companies to have more collaboration on new designs. Osram will be positioned to gain a significant foothold in what they believe will be the biggest market for smart lighting applications.

 

“Fluence is opening the floodgates to a huge future market... Its extensive knowledge of the horticulture market and possible applications, combined with Osram’s expertise in lighting technologies, sensors and connectivity, will position us as a leading horticultural solutions provider.  -Stefan Kampmann, CTO of Osram

 

A facility using Osram's lighting systems

 

Vertical Farming and the Future of Agriculture

Osram cites increasing population and urbanization as the driving factors that will change the landscape of agriculture, creating a need for more efficient farming growing methods that minimize space. Osram also thinks that moving to large-scale urban grow facilities will cut down on the waste and pollution that stems from our current agricultural logistics system. According to their press release, 40 percent of food is spoiled between the producer and the supermarkets it arrives at. Having more farms in urban areas can reduce spoilage attributed to long transport distances. They also hope to cut down on the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and excessive water consumption by keeping plants in a controlled environment.

Furthermore, Osram says that incorporating Fluence's LED solutions can help growers increase their harvests by 25 percent while reducing energy consumption by up to 50 percent. Considering that indoor cannabis grow facilities alone consume more than 1 percent of the energy in the United States, efficiency will be crucial for the advancement of the urban indoor grow facilities. Osram thinks that the key to such high efficiency is automation, specifically, their IoT platform called Lightelligence, which analyzes sensor data with an algorithm to suggest methods of increasing efficiency. This data can be saved into templates for the optimal growth of certain plants. In the future, Osram hopes to use artificial intelligence to completely automate the growing process.

 

“In the future, self-learning software algorithms will create and optimize digital plant models in order to cultivate tailor-made salads and herbs for platform partners such as supermarkets, online grocery shops and pharmaceutical companies,” -Stefan Kampmann, CTO of Osram

 

What Does a Smart Cannabis Grow Facility Look Like?

Although Osram glided over the topic of cannabis in their release, they did reference "medicinal plants" as a market they're expanding into. Until cannabis is legalized federally, semiconductor companies like Osram will be vague about it to preserve their public perception. After all, if Texas Instruments acquired a company like Fluence, they wouldn't say "we want to get into the cannabis market and get some of that dank money."

It is quite obvious that Lightelligence is suited for a high maintenance plant like cannabis. The level of sophistication in automated grow facilities is impressive already, in fact, some facilities, like the one in the video below, can be controlled completely using just a smartphone. Osram hopes to take that even further with Lightelligence. 

 

 

Osram's Horticultural LED Development Kit

If Osram's market predictions prove to be accurate, the time to look into upgrades is now. Osram and partners released their Horticultural LED Development Kit, which is a four-channel, solid-state lighting design that allows developers to mix light in various combinations. The reference design uses simple knobs to adjust the output of light. You can find details about the developer kit below:

 

If you know of any other development kits for horticultural lighting that can be helpful for cannabis growers, let me know in the comments so I can add them!

 

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