The LESA team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and University of New Mexico in collaboration with industry partner ABB was recently selected to receive a $2.375M award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition (SENSOR) program.  The 36 month program builds on LESA’s advanced plenoptic light sensing technology to develop a low cost, highly accurate sensor platform for counting, locating and tracking occupants in any commercial buildings.  The occupancy information can then be used to reduce building HVAC energy costs by up to 30%.

This program will advance LESA’s pioneering work in time of flight (TOF) occupancy sensing by integrating its advanced receiver designs developed under its visible light communications program with patented plenoptic light field sensing developed by LESA’s academic partner, the University of New Mexico. ARPA-E’s selection of this proposal recognizes the value of LESA’s vision for bringing valuable, new capabilities to lighting systems beyond just providing illumination. It also demonstrates the value of academic – industry research collaborations in developing promising new technologies that create new markets and solve difficult technical problems.

About the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA)

LESA is a global leader in developing advanced lighting applications in healthcare, horticulture, wireless communications, building energy efficiency and cognitive systems. Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the ERC program, LESA is an interdisciplinary, multi-university center developing “Smart Lighting Systems that See and Think™”.  The Center integrates academic, industrial, and government expertise in partnerships to produce transformational IoT enabled lighting systems that combine digitized LED lighting, new sensing networks and advanced controls to create powerful, new services that improve human health and wellbeing.  The center’s strong interdisciplinary training produces exceptionally well trained engineering graduates who are adept at innovation and primed for leadership in the global economy.   LESA is headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and partners with Boston University, The University of New Mexico, and Thomas Jefferson University, along with dozens of global industry members to achieve its objectives.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.” For more information, please visit