Visible light communication (VLC) is a way to send signals via visible light to a receiver that will then translate the signal into data, and some tech firms are now able to use VLC to communicate with mobile devices.
If you’re trying to imagine the possible uses of this technology, look no further than Philips. The company, which has a long and storied history in consumer product development, is poised to use VLC in commercial lighting
systems as a way to beam information to consumers in stores
To illustrate: You walk into a grocery store, pull out your smartphone and tap the Philips app. The app allows your device to receive the VLC signals and translate the data, which could include anything from a store map that helps you shop to sales info that helps you save.This communication does not have to be one-way. Once the lighting system (and the network behind it) receives a signal via the app it will be able to plot routes and makes other suggestions based on location within the store and other available data.This kind of technology could be employed virtually anywhere, but could be especially useful (annoying?) in “captive” situations where consumers are obliged to remain in one place – airports, airplanes, public transportation and so on.How VLC Works
The continued improvement of light-emitting diode (LED) technology has allowed companies like Philips to expand on the concept of “intelligent” lighting
. LED diodes can be calibrated to flash at an imperceptibly high rate that can send signals in binary fashion while still providing light that appears uninterrupted to the human eye.The app will then be able to use available photodiodes in your device (such as those found in the camera) to collect the signal and turn it into data, which in turn is decoded and presented through the app as information that is (hopefully) helpful to youVLC History
Anyone familiar with Morse code or old-timey movies featuring maritime emergencies knows that VLC is nothing new. The first photophone
, a device that made it possible to transmit speech via light, was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Charles Tainter in 1880.These advancements were simpler versions of what we’re seeing today, and will likely be seeing much more of tomorrow. Work with LED VLC began in Japan more than a decade ago and its use is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years.ATGStores.com
hopes the next (light) wave of the future makes all of our lives easier.