About Dr. Bulb

This lighting blog covers a wide range of lighting topics including current events, the lighting industry, and product related blogs. I, Dr. Edison Bulb have 30+ years of lighting experience. My specialties include LED, commercial lighting and sports lighting. I am continuing my learning by keeping up with current lighting events and keeping track of them in this lighting blog.

VLC

LEDs Give Consumers New Direction with Visual Light Communications

As technology improves convenience and efficiency in practically every facet of our lives, and generations growing up with it becoming the rule—not the exception—it is only fitting that the way we shop also evolves. Besides the internet, shopping has not changed much worth noting, until today. Armed with mobile devices and swipe-ready technology, retailers are eyeing ways to take better advantage of the new digital shop-a-holic.

Follow the Lights

Combining forces with GPS and smartphone technology, visual light communications, otherwise known as VLC, is using LED lights to relay feedback to shoppers and make their experience much more interactive and efficient for both the consumer and the retailer. All the big names are invested in this trend, GE, ByteLight, Philips, and other LED brands are on-board the VLC train.

LED lighting up Aisles

So, it turns out that not only are LED lights the superior light bulb technology, but they are also the preferred method for communication for consumers with smartphones and tablets (smart watches, too). LED technology allows for rapid output of not only light, but also data to receptive devices.

The process involves LED lights flashing patterns to the camera of your devices in a quick succession that is undetectable to the human eye. This method of digital smoke signals is going to make things more seamless for the consumer, it will make Q codes and alike feel archaic.  This VLC technology will also allow for a faster method of using WiFi in the near future, once the demand for it rises.

Essentially, VLC in stores will allow for a much better understanding of customer behavior, the ability to serve them relevant information, i.e. to help find something in their aisle, and offer them more ways to interact with them.

More ways of using VLC

VLC application ideas are only limited to one’s imagination. Even in its most basic form as a more accurate form of GPS, it offers plenty of potential.  Each major company has their own plan about how they want to integrate this LED technology. Philips is using a system to send customers exact location data on items they have listed on their downloadable app. This sharing of information allows for instant offers or coupons for nearby items located in their aisle. It is like driving around town with your GPS telling you about the store across the street having a big sale or searching for stores in realtime that have an item in-stock that you are looking for.

We are sure that within the next year, you will have this seamless level of access to the things that you want, know where to find it, and know what other deals on the same item are nearby, so that you spend less time getting lost and more time buying what you want. This is a win-win for retailers and consumers everywhere.

The best part about LED lights sending data via VLC? It costs zero dollars to invest in this technology for stores who already use LED lights in their stores. Just imagine, that beaming data to smartphones can really make navigating airports and numerous venues quick and painless.  We can’t wait.

This is the stuff that truly feels like we are finally entering the future of convenience technology.  We are essentially meeting and surpassing those sci-fi depictions of how the future might look for shopping and getting around.

It is actually kind of funny now, thinking about all those futuristic movies where the tension elements are usually scrambling against the clock to locate and get precious resources, but they usually lack accurate devices to track something as small as a bag of Fritos™ on a shelf. That is a sign that we have finally made it.

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