LiFi swarm intelligence through IR LED signals

March 07, 2017 // By Julien Happich
Australian company Organic Response controls large lighting installations in a way that enables each luminaire to communicate with its immediate neighbors, just like a school of fish would do. The company uses high power infrared LEDs from Osram Opto Semiconductors, modulating the infrared light signals to establish communication between the luminaires.

Organic Response Lighting Control Systems rely on a distributed intelligence which enables the system to react to the presence of persons in the immediate vicinity, as well as to those further away. At the heart of the system are sensor nodes integrated in each luminaire.

They comprise a motion sensor, an ambient light sensor and an infrared transmitter/receiver pair used for communication. The moment a sensor node detects occupancy, the luminaire reacts by putting out a predetermined light level. At the same time, it communicates that occupancy to its neighbours by emitting an infrared signal.

Subsequently, the neighbouring sensor nodes respond by setting their luminaire to a predetermined light level appropriate to an occupant in that vicinity. They then also simultaneously relay another infrared signal to their own neighbours, informing them there is an occupant two light fittings away.

Ultimately, each sensor node “knows” how close a person is and sets the luminaire to an appropriate brightness. In this way, it is not just the spot the person is in that is illuminated, but also adjacent areas.

This also eliminates the sensation of literally stepping into darkness when entering currently unoccupied spaces. Using light as a means of communication ensures that only luminaires within the person’s field of vision are on while systems in neighbouring rooms, for instance, will not be triggered. In case an office is reorganized, newly positioned walls will automatically block the infrared signal and thus adapt the system response automatically to any adjustments.