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Fujitsu uses LED lights to send data to smartphones

Data is encoded invisibly in light cast on objects, and then read with a smartphone's camera.
FUJITSU: Data is encoded invisibly in light cast on objects, and then read with a smartphone’s camera. Click to enlarge.

Fujitsu Laboratories has shown off a way to use LED lighting to transmit data about a particular product in a store, an exhibit in a museum or a song being performed during a concert to a consumer’s smartphone.

The technology works by embedding ID data into light cast onto objects by LEDs or other lighting sources and then enabling that data to be recovered from an object by a smartphone.

“By embedding data in light in a way that it is not detectable to the naked eye, an object that has been illuminated can convey data to a smartphone or other smart device,” the company explains. “To capture the data, a user only needs to point a camera at the object. This technology enables products in a store, works of art, people, buildings and a variety of other objects to be the source of data transmission.”

A video shows the technology in action, demonstrating possible use cases including how a shopper could point their camera at an item and be instantly rewarded with an on-screen coupon:

“Colour LEDs combine the three lights of red, green and blue (RGB) to produce a range of colours. By modulating the intensity of the light emitted by each of the three component colours along the time axis, ID data can be embedded in the light cast onto an object, even with very small variations.

“Data for one ID is attached to each individual LED light. When light is cast onto a surface, some of it will be absorbed and some reflected, depending on the reflectivity of that surface. The signal encoded in the respective RGB wavelengths will wind up being weakened by that partial absorption, and since this technology uses a image capture by a camera to measure the reflectivity and compensate accordingly, information capturing accuracy has been improved.”

“In addition, this technology is not limited to LED lighting and could be used with projectors,” the company adds.

Fujitsu Laboratories is now conducting tests to assess the technology with a range of installation environments, the company says, “and is working to improve its accuracy with the goal of commercial implementation during fiscal 2015.”

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