Disney researchers have created a novel networking technology that makes it possible for LED lights not only to communicate with each other but to do so in a way that is compatible with internet and its technical protocols.
Transmitting signals via light is nothing new. Scottish innovator Alexander Graham Bell showed that speech could be conveyed with light in the 1880s, years before speech was first transmitted via radio.
"Communication with light enables a true 'Internet of Things' as consumer devices that are equipped with LEDs but not radio links could be transformed into interactive communication nodes," said Stefan Mangold who heads Disney Research's wireless research group.
The new technology is called Visible Light Communication (VLC) which promotes the idea that objects can communicate with each other and share information to create smart environments.
"We are not just talking about sensors, smartphones and appliances. This easily could include toys that have LEDs, creating an 'Internet of Toys' in which toys can be accessed, monitored and acted on remotely," Mangold said.
"The ubiquitous presence of LED-based light bulbs that can be enhanced with VLC functionality, and the availability of LED-equipped devices, unleashes a wide range of opportunities and applications," the author said.
Mangold and his colleagues presented their findings at VLCS 2015, the ACM workshop on visible light communication systems in Paris, France, last week.