LED Luminaries

LED lights deliver location technology

bytelight.jpgAn interesting story on New Scientist involves the use of LED technology at the Boston Museum of Science, to provide location-specific information to visitors…

Hal Hodson writes:

I’m experiencing ByteLight, a new type of location technology which uses LED lights to deliver exact location information indoors. It’s accurate to within a metre, whereas Wi-Fi triangulation can only place you within a spherical bubble several metres in diameter (meaning it might not even know which floor you’re on), and works in places where GPS signals can’t go. Each bulb flashes in a unique pattern that humans don’t see but which identifies the bulb’s location via a smartphone or tablet camera. Software then works out where you are by knowing which bulb you are standing closest to.

ByteLight will be perfect for augmented reality and robotics, says the firm’s CEO Aaron Ganick. While most humans can locate themselves accurately enough in a supermarket or factory, robots need some help. ByteLight’s newest bulb designs let the receiver figure out how far away they are from the bulb vertically – a boon if robotic shelf stackers are going to keep the olive oil separate from the pasta sauce.

Mapping applications that use the information sent out by the bulbs are able to transition to other sources of location information, meaning that your smartphone will be able to navigate you (or perhaps your robotic shopper) seamlessly all the way from your house to the frozen food aisle.

The set-up in the museum is not the latest version of ByteLight. New versions of the kit are able to use more than one light source to triangulate the user’s position even more accurately. That’s good, as right now you get an exact location only if you are standing right under a bulb – the system struggles and gets glitchy if you are midway between two.

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