PLUS SENSE, for adapting lighting to urban users


PLUS SENSE was developed between 2011 – 2012 in  relation with previously conducted researches elaborated at the Laboratorio Luce of the Politecnico di Milano. The aim was to research, design and realize a full working prototype around the upcoming important issues of digital streets and cities where lighting can be controlled for being adaptive to inhabitants pattern of use and behaviors. The lighting pole and lighting fixture for urban outdoor spaces is getting more and more intelligent and upgraded so that he will not only provide lighting to the city but also integrate more functions such as orienting people, providing safety by creating a comfortable scenarios or sensing people fear in walking the streets, ensuring security for pedestrians and car users, signalling events and performing new luminous atmosphere. In order to do that, the pole becomes a smarter object in the city enabled to collect information from the streets and to elaborate those information (with extra data from the internet cloud) to provide tailored lighting performances. Which scenarios of luminous atmosphere can we image from that? In applying technology and digital controllable systems it is important to investigate the issue from a sociological point of view. On the other hand, technological reliability and assessment has an important influence on the functioning of the lighting systems.

Research issues and aims

In addition to the importance of providing good and intelligent lighting services for urban inhabitants, by exploring people needs and desires, there are also issues related to technological reliability of sensors and information understanding and correct flow in order to provide, a correct interpretation of data and to translate them into reliable lighting behaviors. In order to understand which system are available a huge state of the art and background research was performed to collect best practice and case studies, from more technological and energy saving ones to more artistic installations. In addition to this sensors, technological protocols and available products where investigated and deeply explored. The final objective of the preliminary research was to access the argument in order to design a working prototype for testing lighting by sensing the urban environment. In particular PLUS SENSE was designed taking into account the integration with the already existent PLUS family and it was conceived as a research tool in order to test the reliability of the intelligent system for technological assessment. In particular, the research question about the reliability of the sensing modules concerned what happens in nightly situation with…

  • limited illuminance (less than 1 lux)?
  • interference with dazzling lighting from cars?
  • interference with reflected lighting from windows?
  • interference with diffused lighting from fog or snow?
  • idle people in the scene?

With those issues in mind, and having defined scenarios of application based on people desires and need, PLUS SENSE was designed to be a light, integrated and simple to assemble and use working prototype for testing purpose.


The element was designed in order to comprise the PLUS modules equipped with on-board drivers and NTC sensors for sensing temperature at the LED junction. More than this it is equipped with a CMOS video camera for monitoring the streets, the power supply and the smart control by Umpi to report LEDs failures and problems on board.


The videocamera, in particular, is enabling the system to detect presence and movement of people by orienting the internal sensor in the space. In fact, the camera is able to digitally move to monitor the space in a wider area (Pan: +/- 180°; Tilt: 90°; Zoom: 3x digital can be controlled digitally). The system requires an illuminance of about 0.5 lux and it is provided a possible integration with an IR illuminator.


The final prototype was produced by NERI and was equipped as in the previous pictures in order to test its reliability in real contexts experiments.


If you want to know more about the research and design, more details are provided in the following presentation (Italian language): design_ENEA_PLUSSENSE

A shorter and revised version in English (part of a Lecture presented at  the Politecnico di Milano, Laboratorio Luce – LIGHTING PRODUCT DESIGN Introductory course on lighting fixture design) can be found here: PlusSense_DARIACASCIANI

Design & Engineering by Daria Casciani in collaboration with Eng. Fulvio Musante


Published public reports about the research and design

Casciani D., Musante F., Rossi M., Siniscalco A. (2011) Ricerca di sistema elettrico. Integrazione di Tecnologie SMART nel Lighting Design.Relazione finale dei principali della attività “Studio di fattibilità finalizzato all’analisi e definizione di alcune soluzioni di integrazione di componenti Smart al prototipo a LED PLUS” Report RdS/2011/326 November 2011

Rossi, M.; Casciani, D.; Musante, F. (2012) Ricerca di sistema elettrico. Advance LED lighting design nell’illuminazione pubblica. Relazione tecnica Attività C.1: Ricerca progettuale PLUS SENSE. Report RdS 2012-274. May 2012, accessed the 08/09/2014

Published international paper about this research and design

M. Rossi, Musante F., Casciani D., Fumagalli S. (2013) PLUS, Public Lighting Unit System, Lux Europa, Polski Komitet Oswietleniowy SEP Krakòw


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