LED lighting isn’t only used as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional lighting technologies. It can also transfer information.
A relatively new technology called Visible Light Communication, or VLC, is changing the way we transfer information—all thanks to LED lighting. LEDs work by emitting a flickering light so quickly that the human eye cannot discern this flickering. This new design works by altering the frequency at which these LEDs flicker in order to send messages to devices like smartphones and tablets, or anything else that can pick up light emission signals. These new patterns of light emission are still far too rapid for the human eye to pick up, and therefore these lights still appear to be steady, normal lights. Changing a regular LED luminaire to transmit signals in this way is predicted to be a fairly simple process as well, as it should simply involve a change in the driver of the luminaire, so transferring to this new technology is expected to be relatively fast and cost-effective.
The modern world is already buzzing about the possible applications of VLC. One of the most obvious and far-reaching ideas would be the transmission of Wi-Fi signals in this manner. Called “Li-Fi,” this new method of sending and receiving Wi-Fi signals would impact a large demographic, leaving the days of clunky and temperamental wireless routers behind us for this much more modern, elegant technology.
The concept of VLC has also gained a large amount of attention from retailers, who could use this technology to track the exact position of customers in stores. VLC can determine location within 10cm, an astonishing level of accuracy. Retailers can take advantage of this by sending notifications to consumers when they reach certain locations in the store, such as deals or coupons available for certain items the customer is walking by. Furthermore, this has enormous applications for directions in retail locations- customers can be guided to the section or specific product they are searching for with pinpoint accuracy.
VLC technology is currently being developed by many major companies, including GE, Philips, and others. VLC is revolutionary, and you will likely see its integration into everyday life in the future.