Disney adds position finding to visible light communications

June 29, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Researchers at Disney Research and ETH Zurich have demonstrated the addition of position finding to use of LED bulbs to both illuminate a room and provide a communications link in that room.

The researchers have developed a system called EnLighting based on consumer-grade LEDs that, with some modifications both produce light and serve as light sensors. By having individual LEDs alternate between sending modulated light signals and serving as receivers of signals, it is possible to create a network of bulbs that can send messages to each other and connect to devices, while having no discernible effect on room lighting.

Stefan Schmid, a Ph.D. student at Disney Research and ETH Zurich and colleagues shared details of the system at the IEEE International Conference on Sensing, Communication and Networking (SECON) 2016 in London (see EnLighting paper).

"Visible light communication networks conserve the radio spectrum, while also making it difficult to eavesdrop for anyone out of line of sight of the network," said Markus Gross, vice president at Disney Research.

Modified LED light bulb. Source: Disney Research.

Two-IC addition with Wi-Fi back-channel. Source: Disney Research.