(Conceptual illustration of visible light communications system. Courtesy of Disney Research)
Consumer-grade LED light bulbs can be enhanced with basic light-receiving electronics to enable the sensing of incoming signals from other light-emitting devices – the indoor visible light communication (VLC) system, called EnLighting, enables distributed and fully connected LED light bulbs to communicate through free space optics and may be a way to both light a room and provide a communications link.
Researchers at Disney Research and ETH Zurich designed and implemented the system, demonstrating that it is a viable way to interconnect devices within a room.
The researchers added a system-on-a-chip (SoC) running an embedded version of Linux to each bulb, as well as photodiodes to enable sensing of incoming signals and an additional power supply for the added electronics.
The individual LEDs were able to alternate between sending modulated light signals and serving as receivers of signals, creating a network of bulbs that could send messages to each other and connect to devices while having no discernible effect on room lighting. The bulb networks demonstrated the ability to support the low bandwidth applications typical of many devices.
The VLC system may offer a low-cost, nonintrusive way to extend device-to-device communication to room area networking.
Click Smart LED Bulbs as the research was presented The research was presented at the IEEE International Conference on Sensing, Communication and Networking (SECON) 2016.