In the spring of 2011, a group of FGCU students came up with an idea that revolutionized the lighting industry. They created an outdoor light controller with a GPS switch inside. This technology can substitute for the popular photobulb technology.
Michael Gookin, CEO and president of GPS Lightlock, says everything started as a student project.
“We were in North Lake Village and it was about 10 in the morning, and all of the parking lot lights were on,” Gookin said. “So we went to Ben Hill Griffin, and all street lights were on.”
The street lights use 400-watt bulbs, which are very energy-consuming.
“We thought it was a tremendous waste of energy, and we thought of a way to replace it,” Gookin said.
The photo bulb technology works with a lightsensing component. Gookin said the most common problem with the inefficiency of the photo-bulb technology is that the lens inside the light gets dirty, and that’s why the lights don’t turn off at the right times. The light controller receives the signal from the GPS satellite and determines where it is on the earth, as well as a time synchronization from the satellite.
The GPS Lightlock has come a long way since 2011. A company was started on campus with investors, and newer versions of the product have been created. However, it has not been easy.
“It was very hard to crack the mathematics,” Gookin said. “We did data collection and wrote down the algorithms for when to switch the light at what specific rotation on earth.”
The students then recorded data for approximately a year and a half in the tiki hut in North Lake Village. They got up every morning at 4 a.m. to collect it. They presented their work to several mathematics professors, and they contributed.
“We reached out to the rest of the community and immediately got responses,” Gookin said.
Isaac Gainey, a senior studying software engineering, is one of the students who has worked on GPS Lightlock. This summer, Gainey helped make version three into version four, which is the product currently being marketed.
“[It] was me helping him with editing circuity to fine tune the product,” Gainey said. “I was helping with making the next version of the product that would enable to easily adjust the light turn on and turn off times for the whole year.”
The GPS Lightlock has been patented with the number 8,816,847 and is now being sold on Home Depot online for $65. The product is offered with a 15-year warranty.