Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd, based in Kawasaki, Japan, has developed a technology that embeds ID data in LED light so that smartphone users can extract information about products illuminated with the LEDs.
By hiding data in light in a way that is difficult to trace by naked eye, a product that has been illuminated can transfer information to a mobile device.
When users point their smart devices’ camera at a product lit by RGB (red, green, blue) LEDs, the lens captures slight fluctuations in the light, connecting the smart device to websites and videos about the products.
Fujitsu claims that the technology could even trigger a mobile payment system for purchasing products. The new method could be implemented by retailers as well as in museums and art galleries or trade shows. This technology will be exhibited at the Fujitsu Forum in Munich, Germany this week.
In Fujitsu’s technology, the color of the light rapidly changes from red to blue and vice versa- the red pulses stand for 0’s in binary code, and the blue ones stand for 1’s. The changes occur so fast, that the bulb’s output seems to be continuous white lighting when seen through a naked eye. A smart device equipped with a special app detects the code in the light lit off the displayed product. After reading the coded instructions, the smartphone responds by displaying the information by navigating to a website, or taking up the required action.
There have been a number of announcements that use factors such as GPS coordinates, Bluetooth signals or rapidly-flickering overhead lighting to convey data, but those systems are limited to relatively wide areas and can’t be used on individual items. Fujitsu hopes that the technology is scalable and could even be used to retrieve information on extremely large items such as buildings. For instance, while watching a singer, you could point your smartphone camera at the singer and get an instant download of the song being performed. The company plans to commercialize the technology in 2015.