Visual light landmarks for mobile devices

In IPSN 2014 - Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (Part of CPS Week)


The omnipresence of indoor lighting makes it an ideal vehicle for pervasive communication with mobile devices. In this paper, we present a communication scheme that enables interior ambient LED lighting systems to send data to mobile devices using either cameras or light sensors. By exploiting rolling shutter camera sensors that are common on tablets, laptops and smartphones, it is possible to detect high-frequency changes in light intensity reflected off of surfaces and in direct line-of-sight of the camera. We present a demodulation approach that allows smartphones to accurately detect frequencies as high as 8kHz with 0.2kHz channel separation. In order to avoid humanly perceivable flicker in the lighting, our system operates at frequencies above 2kHz and compensates for the non-ideal frequency response of standard LED drivers by adjusting the light's duty-cycle. By modulating the PWM signal commonly used to drive LED lighting systems, we are able to encode data that can be used as localization landmarks. We show through experiments how a binary frequency shift keying modulation scheme can be used to transmit data at 1.25 bytes per second (fast enough to send an ID code) from up to 29 unique light sources simultaneously in a single collision domain. We also show how tags can demodulate the same signals using a light sensor instead of a camera for low-power applications.