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AURA by Philips

Lighting our way to a safer future

AURA by Philips is a school lighting system that immediately alerts first responders and school faculty to a school shooting incident, cutting down response time and saving lives.

My Role:

Concept, Strategy, UX/UI



How can we get a faster response time in order to end these traumatic incidents effectively?


The number of school shootings in America have been steadily rising for decades.


Create a system that allows schools to immediately alert first responders in the event of a shooting.

We've been living in a safety crisis

for decades...

In 2019, CNN released an article titles "10 years, 180 school shootings, 356 victims." The title alone (which only includes K-12 school data) shows the true gravity of our safety crisis. Through their research, they came up with two universal truths: school shootings are increasing and no type of community is spared.


With that information readily available to the public, you'd think schools would take the necessary precautions to ensure procedural safety. We were shocked to find that drills and even real-time emergencies hinge solely on the PA system, rendering the entire school helpless if a shooter decided to immediately harm the office staff. This insight led us to wonder what else could alert the school and authorities effectively?

Light's role in safety

Light has already been used for safety in lieu of sound. Many emergency response tools are sound based, such as smoke detectors and alarms. Developers have catered to the deaf and hard of hearing by creating alarms, doorbells and even baby monitors that trigger flashing lights as warnings. We propose that schools should do the same, especially because an entire emergency procedure is critically impaired if the PA breaks or the office staff is compromised. 

Philips is the perfect brand to launch a light-based panic system for schools because they have been at the forefront of lighting for education and safety for years. In 2011, Philips released SchoolVision lights which featured white lights in various warm and cool tones that proved to improve student' productivity and peace. Years later in 2017, Philips introduced gunshot detection sensors on Los Angeles light posts that could more accurately direct the police to areas of emergency in record time.

SchoolVision lights - cool hues are for productivity

Sensors that triangulate bullet shockwaves on streetlights

Lighting our way to safety

AURA or Active Uniform Response Alert is a school lighting system that immediately alert first responders and school faculty to a school shooting incident, cutting down response time and saving lives. Using the technology from Philips SchoolVision and Philips gunshot detection, schools with AURA are equipped with:

Sensors that triangulate a bullet's shockwave

Color-changing lights to alert the school and police

An app that immediately notifies the school and police

Faster Communication

With the help of AURA, everyone in an emergency situation will be notified faster than ever before. No longer will communication hinge on the PA system. When a gunshot is picked up by the AURA sensors, all of the lights inside the school will turn blue, signifying the start of a shooter's journey to the police. The sensors will triangulate the shockwaves from the gunshot and turn the nearest lights orange so the authorities can track the shooter's path.

The police will be notified immediately when the sensors track the gunshot. Just in case a security breach happens in the school (which would not trigger the sensors), faculty can press and hold a panic button inside the app to begin a lockdown and notify the authorities as well.

AURA Mobile

The AURA app is the first mobile app of its kind that allows school faculty to send a panic alert to the police in case of an emergency. The panic button is designed to be very intentional. To avoid accidentally triggering a school-wide panic, it must be held down for 5 seconds to officially send an alert. Just like the Philips Hue app, teachers will be able to change the lights inside their classrooms daily from their phones, but now they can also track every gunshot in real time. They will be able to see on a map of the school which lights have turned orange near where shots were fired.

Home Notification Edited.png

Moving on Up...

It seems like it can be hard to do truly meaningful work as a designer. I'm not exempt, during graduate school at the Brandcenter I always gravitated towards work that was centered around experiential design or hospitality. I'm grateful for this case study because it reminded me that design can be used to help humanity. As an experience designer, I want to keep the well-being of the public at the heart of my work. I really value people so I can only hope that in the future my designs will enhance the world!

The Team

Tory Nagel, Strategist

Arielle Bryant, Art Director

Stevenson, Copywriter

To see AURA's origin and the lights and app in action, please view the video!

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