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Boston University Working On LED Wireless Networks

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the line-of-sight dept.

Transportation 179

Madas writes "This article on Absolute Gadget details how researchers at Boston University's College of Engineering are working on devloping wireless networks that use LED lights instead of normal radio waves. This research apparently has other uses in the automobile industry. Apparently the LEDs could warn you if the driver in front has put the brakes on so could avoid hitting the car in front. Personally, I'd use the vision balls that are in my thought box."

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Brake Lights (5, Funny)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318129)

Apparently the LEDs could warn you if the driver in front has put the brakes on so could avoid hitting the car in front

Dude aren't those called brake lights?

--
Oh Well, Bad Karma and all . . .

Re:Brake Lights (1, Funny)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318151)

I think so, but since I am blind and drive I couldn't tell you for sure.

Re:Brake Lights (4, Funny)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318257)

So you are the guy driving most every car that was on the road with me this morning?

Oh, so YOU're the guy ... (3, Funny)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318979)

with the braille instrument cluster.

Re:Oh, so YOU're the guy ... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319177)

you joke.. recently my bank replaced the keypad (not the whole thing just the keypad) on the Drive through ATM with a braille one..

Re:Oh, so YOU're the guy ... (3, Insightful)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319567)

As funny as that observation always is, consider that:
  • Walk-up ATMs and drive-up ATMs frequently use the same interface and same keypad, so it's just cheaper to make them all Braille
  • It's not just the person in the driver's seat who can use a drive-through ATM. Somebody sitting in the driver's-side rear seat can use it just as well

There are often reasons for silly things...

Re:Oh, so YOU're the guy ... (1)

michaelmuffin (1149499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319935)

you joke.. recently my bank replaced the keypad (not the whole thing just the keypad) on the Drive through ATM with a braille one..

the factories that make the keypads make keypads for many different uses, including ones where it would be reasonable for a blind person to use. a payphone or an atm inside a mall, for instance. instead of making a non-braille model for places where the blind can't use them, they make just the braille one because it's cheaper to manufacture just the one model

Re:Oh, so YOU're the guy ... (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319951)

That's not actually a bad idea. Just because it's a drive up ATM, doesn't mean that the driver has to be the one using it. A blind passenger sitting in the rear seat behind the driver could use it.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319633)

Blinded by those LED tail lights, no doubt.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318273)

LED tail lights. There's a difference, you know.

=Smidge=

Re:Brake Lights (1)

TinFoilMan (1371973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318411)

Naw, at BU they call those Red Enhanced LED Lights. Nobody knows what that means, but it sounds good.

Re:Brake Lights (3, Insightful)

hey (83763) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318441)

Could be used to communicate the rate at which the brake pedal is pressed.

Re:Brake Lights (3, Interesting)

T3hD0gg (908064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318623)

Why don't they do that with regular brake lights?

You could have it so the brightness of the brake lights describes how far down the pedal is. You could even have it so if there's a sudden, heavy push to the pedal, they could blink rapidly.

Also, the people who ride their brake pedal won't be an annoyance to other drivers because their little pedal tap won't create a huge change in the brightness of their brake lights.

Re:Brake Lights (2, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319111)

I can think of two reasons:
1. A pressure sensor like that would be more complex and prone to error - probably require some kind of calibration.
2. Psychologically, you probably don't want people ignoring faint brake lights. I can already hear people complaining about how, say, Toyota uses brighter brake lights than Chevy and so so-and-so got confused about how hard the person was pressing the brake. It would also be hard to interpret the lights in varying light levels.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

T3hD0gg (908064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319729)

1. There wouldn't be a need for a pressure sensor. You could use the same electrical design as a drive-by-wire gas pedal.
2. If you're confused about how hard they were pressing the brake, then maybe you should have looked at how fast you were coming up to the rear end of their car. That's pretty much the same answer a cop would tell you now if the person you hit didn't have their brake lights on at all.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319877)

2. If you're confused about how hard they were pressing the brake, then maybe you should have looked at how fast you were coming up to the rear end of their car. That's pretty much the same answer a cop would tell you now if the person you hit didn't have their brake lights on at all.

So then why implement this thing at all?

Re:Brake Lights (1)

T3hD0gg (908064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320201)

Because it would make driving just a little bit easier during normal situations, in my opinion.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319697)

I have a friend that owns a (new) Mini Cooper and having been on a run with the local Mini group one of the leaders had his central brake light replaced with a slick LED unit that blinked a couple of times every time he hit the brakes. Under the physical and mental strain of doing 30 MPH around multiple hairpin turns down hill this can help quite a bit in knowing he's braking while still using your peripheral vision as you follow the outside or inside curve of the road.

And believe me, these guys *stand* on the brakes going into the corner and then the accelerator coming out.

Re:Brake Lights (0)

blhack (921171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320235)

In mexico city they do something like this.

Stopping slowly = brake lights. Stopping quickly = flashers. I've always thought that a system of lights that get brighter, or illuminate differently (think of that thing you hit at the fair. the harder you hit it, the higher the lights go) the harder you press the brakes.

Re:Brake Lights (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318449)

Vision balls?

Single point of failure if you ask me. What type of nerd are you?

Re:Brake Lights (4, Funny)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318585)

One with a pair of vision balls.

Re:Brake Lights (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318515)

Not to mention that such a feature (automatic braking based on the car in front of you) already exists. It uses radar, it just has to bounce a signal off the car in front of it. As it turns out, when a car starts braking, it starts to slow down, and that can be easily detected!

In fact, networking using LEDs also already exists: it's that IR port that no one uses any more because it sucks.

So congrats, Boston, you finally discovered LEDs and technology that has existed for what, two decades now?!

It does explain why MIT agreed that a student wearing a shirt with LEDs should be treated like a terrorist, though, no one in Boston knew about LEDs.

Re:Brake Lights (2, Insightful)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318523)

There is so little in TFA that has to do with cars. I don't understand why this was chosen as a focus of the summary.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318587)

What I get a kick out of is that this "automotive" use will fail miserably. first ignore that the auto makers are hostile and refuse to make things interoperate we'll only have fords responding to fords and so on.

Plus, every IR/light based communication system I have ever used fails 100% when exposed to direct sunlight. The sun can outpower any led you put in a taillight.

Re:Brake Lights (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318731)

Just goes to show what peoples' priorities people are.

This kind of thing would lead to people driving with their knees on the wheel, cell phone in one hand and a latte in the other, waiting for their cars to tell them to press the brake pedal. Let them do it -- I'll ride the bus while the rest of the nation competes for the coveted Darwin Award.

Re:Brake Lights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25320313)

Well then I guess you haven't worked with LEDs much, my grad project was to land a UAV with an automated system and we used infrared LEDs attached to the vehicle to lock on to it with a camera and send radio commands to adjust its flight path. It had to work at all times of day and daylight wasn't much of an obstacle.

Re:Brake Lights (2, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318837)

> Dude aren't those called brake lights?

The light part would remain, to tell YOU the guy in front is braking. But now imagine that every light on every vehicle were also beaconing a unique identifier along with current speed and acceleration. You car would notice a car in front of you (because it has been seeing it with the front mounted sensor for a bit, thus it has to be in front and it could likely even know it is in the same lane) just started drasticly slowing down and you haven't hit your brakes. So it does something, hopefully themeable. Imagine the possibilities. Or fear them as the case may be.

IRDA Anyone? (2, Insightful)

neowolf (173735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318137)

Wasn't there just a story about this on Slashdot two days ago?

Anyone else remember the exciting world of IRDA? How is this really going to be that much different (or better)?

Re:IRDA Anyone? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318251)

Same as the difference between 10baseT, 100BaseT, 1000BaseT- same shit, different clock speed

Re:IRDA Anyone? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318289)

IRDA worked just fine, there's nothing wrong with IRDA. It got killed by Bluetooth, which requires more power and has less inherent security.

Re:IRDA Anyone? (2, Insightful)

neowolf (173735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319433)

No- it got killed because of reliability over any kind of a distance issues. You also had to always make sure the ports were clear of obstacles, which isn't very practical in an office or mobile environment. You could "kill" a network device (like a printer) with a post-it note.

I still remember (not-so-fondly) printing from my Palm device to an HP printer with IRDA. That was almost as agonizing as waiting for a 2400-baud modem to connect, and about as fast too. I also remember creating "ad-hoc" IRDA networks with laptops. Once again- the 2400-baud modem analogy kicks in.

It's certainly possible they can ramp-up the speed, and it may be slightly more reliable using visible light- but it's still light. It's a fantastic transmission medium when contained (as in fiber optics) but sucks in the open air. A shadow or well-placed mirror could completely frell your network. Beyond that, a well-placed mirror or two could relay your network traffic almost anywhere- so much for security.

Re:IRDA Anyone? (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319777)

There are certainly things you can do with bluetooth that you can't do with IRDA. I wouldn't want an IRDA headset, and I wouldn't use it over a distance, but BT gets used for all kinds of things that USB (yes, real wires) Wifi, and IRDA are better for.

Printers? Stick them on a network, don't wire them to a computer. If you want wireless access to a printer, use Wifi and Zeroconf/Rendezvous/Bonjour.

Headsets? Perfect application for Bluetooth.

Sharing files, PDA to PDA? You *want* short range and directionality. IR is ideal.

Mice and keyboards? Been there, done that, got the dead batteries and incomplete mess

Re:IRDA Anyone? (3, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318657)

These look pretty. Maybe they'll use blue LEDs. Everything is better with blue LEDs.

I remember arcnet. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319561)

Anyone else remember the exciting world of IRDA?

Not only that, I remember Arcnet.

Very early on in computing there was Datapoint's Arcnet. It was a token ring network that tied their early desktop machines (the SSL IC machines whose instruction set spawned the 8008) and their associated fileservers.

Options for interconnection included:
  - copper cabling
  - "Arclight" building-to-building infrared links. (They had separate transmitting and receiving lenses maybe a foot across each and were good for miles if it wasn't foggy or raining. If it was foggy or raining the net partitioned and rejoined automagically as the blockage moved around.)
  - room-filling infrared (with repeaters about the size of smoke detectors or smaller for penetrating walls).

Nothing new here - unless you count that somebody's going to do it yet again.

I want to drive too! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318149)

"Personally, I'd use the vision balls that are in my thought box."

I'm Stevie Wonder, you insensitive clod.

Re:I want to drive too! (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318327)

Um, I don't think I want you driving my car, Steve. Or your friend Ray, either.

The submitter wishes to use his eyes, but that requires he also use his feet. When I'm on the highway I don't want to use my feet. If the car's on cruise control (hint: you get LOTS better mileage using your cruise) could let off the accelerator by itself when the idiot ahead braked (unless someone cuts you off or an animal is in your way, there is no reson to brake on the highway except following too close), it would be a far more pleasant driving experience.

"Vision balls in my thought box?" That's the worst poetry I've heard since the Vogons. Please stop!

Re:I want to drive too! (1)

Notegg Nornoggin (1175269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318433)

Black people have brains too, you redneck fuck.

Re:I want to drive too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25319033)

What the hell are you talking about? The color of Steve or Ray's skin has nothing to do with the GP's post; instead it's the fact that they're both blind, you ignorant fuck.

Re:I want to drive too! (1)

Notegg Nornoggin (1175269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319229)

Anonymous coward, ea? Just like your type to hide under those stupid robe's and hoods.

Vision Balls? (5, Funny)

dmomo (256005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318243)

> Personally, I'd use the vision balls that are in my thought box."

Personally, I think the zipper gets in the way.

They would be better used for proximity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318253)

To remind those idiots who tail less than a car length at 70MPH how close they are to death.

Vision balls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318265)

"I'd use the vision balls that are in my thought box."

Uhh.. eyeballs are merely the extension of the brain, they in a sense ARE your thought box, just another aspect of your mind.

Re:Vision balls? (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318647)

No, no, no, the "box" is the skull.

Re:Vision balls? (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318735)

Uhh.. eyeballs are merely the extension of the brain, they in a sense ARE your thought box, just another aspect of your mind.

No, not the whole eyeball, just the retina and optic nerve. As doctors stuck needles in my left eye in 2006, turning me into a cyborg [slashdot.org] and giving me far better than a normal person's vision (20/15, before surgery it was 20/400 and I wore thick glasses since childhood. You will be assimilated.) and again this past April I've learned a lot about how eyeballs work. [slashdot.org]

If you damage your retina, it doesn't hurt. Your brain percieves damage to the retina as a flash of light. If you are badly nearsighted you are in danger of a torn or detached retina. If you see flashes, followed by black snow and/or a black snake, get immediate medical help. If you don't you will become irreversably blind.

Re:Vision balls? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318821)

Do you write these posts just to read your own words back to yourself, or are you under the delusion that your bullshit is somehow interesting?

Sounds familiar.. (1)

creatorbri (1362787) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318269)

How is this any different than Infrared networking? I mean, aside from the potential for using your Christmas tree decorations as a WAP?

Might or might not work for army... (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318305)

Light should be less susceptible for jam and interference.

But on the other hand, it would expose your position. (And they also have night goggle for IR light)

Completely reliable! Except when... (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318315)

...someone turns on another light source overpowering the LEDs
...something flies over the sensor (or worse yet lands on it) blocking reception of the data
...multple 'databulbs' in one room get out of sync, causing confusion in the device

They also brought un security in TFA

Since this white light does not penetrate opaque surfaces such as walls, there is a higher level of security, as eavesdropping is not possible.

I guess eavesdropping is technically not possible since you can't normally listen to light. But someone recording the ultra-fast flickering at a window certainly isn't. So either these systems meant to replace the existing lights in your home operate as top down spotlights (completely horrible lighting solution throughout a home), or you tinfoil all your windows (take THAT big brother). Certainly reliable. Certainly secure.

It's insecure (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318509)

FTFA:

Since this white light does not penetrate opaque surfaces such as walls, there is a higher level of security, as eavesdropping is not possible

Not true, as mentioned in this old Slashdot article [slashdot.org] . Light emissions, even when they are not modulated, may transmit information that can be used by your enemies, for instance in wartime [wikipedia.org]

But I believe your suggestion of tinfoiling windows is good. Just use the same foil you have on your walls (you *do* use tinfoil for wallpaper, don't you?)

Re:Completely reliable! Except when... (1)

Serenissima (1210562) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318621)

...someone turns on another light source overpowering the LEDs ...something flies over the sensor (or worse yet lands on it) blocking reception of the data ...multple 'databulbs' in one room get out of sync, causing confusion in the device

Or when you're hospitalized due to the blinking lights causing a seizure.

Re:Completely reliable! Except when... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319125)

someone turns on another light source overpowering the LEDs

Light is just another frequency of electromagnetic radiation.

When I went to SIU in the late '70s, I had a very good Kenwood FM reciever. There was a ten watt college station operating near Forest Park in St Louis, 30 miles away. I could listen to that station, and did.

That was like seeing a ten watt night light in a sea of fifty thousand watt searchlights, and that was with technology available over 30 years ago! Your fears are unfounded.

something flies over the sensor (or worse yet lands on it) blocking reception of the data

Redundancy solves this problem.

multple 'databulbs' in one room get out of sync, causing confusion in the device

Try an experiment - push the buttons on your TV remote at the same time as your VCR or DVD remote. You'll see that it is not a problem at all.

But someone recording the ultra-fast flickering at a window certainly isn't

You can eavesdrop like that now, from the flicker and EMF of your monitor.

Trust issues (4, Insightful)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318323)

But the question is, do you REALLY trust the car in front of you? What if it just randomly transmits a "braking now!" message in order to cause other cars in the vicinity to put on their brakes?

It would be cool to see what you could do with this to improve traffic flow and autopilot in a controlled environment, but out in the real world the trust issues get pretty dodgy.

Re:Trust issues (2, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318459)

Something tells me you never pulled any pranks that were funny.

Re:Trust issues (1)

Unending (1164935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318557)

The idea of P2P traffic systems is great in theory, but it fails as soon as someone decides to make a greedy or malicious node.

I've put a lot of thought into it because I like the idea, but I just can't get over the problem of greedy or malicious nodes without a government certificate system, like a digital license plate.

The problem then becomes there are all sorts of surveillance issues with government knowing which cars came into contact with which other cars and then also what happens when the certificate servers go down.

Obviously I'm not an expert in systems like this, but I would like to see someone who is an expert do some research along these lines, while fully considering privacy issues.

Re:Trust issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318665)

I once met a guy who modified his car and could switch on the "reverse" light whenever he wanted to.
At one time, when he was too closely tailed, waiting for a red traffic light and watching the pursuer just fail to come in through the rear side of the car, he awaited his chance.
When the traffic light hit green, he switched on the "reverse" light and drove of with screaming tires.

Re:Trust issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318779)

I once met a guy who modified his car and could switch on the "reverse" light whenever he wanted to.

That's how people challenged others to a race back in the '80s.

Re:Trust issues (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318815)

What if it just randomly transmits a "braking now!" message in order to cause other cars in the vicinity to put on their brakes?

That's possible now. Its called tapping your brake.

Re:Trust issues (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320121)

What if it just randomly transmits a "braking now!" message in order to cause other cars in the vicinity to put on their brakes?

We already have that in the analog world. My first car, a 1979 Pinto with a big dent on the side, would engage the backup lights if you moved the stick shift toward reverse - even while you were still in neutral. F'rinstance, if you happened to be driving on the highway.

Combine that false alarm with the Pinto's well-known tendency to blow up - reenforced by my "I XPLODE" vanity plate - and, let me tell you, I had very, very few tailgaters.

Hey, I've got a great idea! (4, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318397)

They should make the LED's look like characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hey, I've got a great idea! (1)

lessthanpi (1333061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318703)

Hopefully a meatwad wouldn't clog the system

AwesomE fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318415)

by BSDI Who sell distribution make = 1400 NetBSD shower Don't just Man walking. It's empire in decline,

Amazing (5, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318425)

This is amazing. Maybe they can put this technology in a small box that I can point at my TV so I don't have to get off the couch to change channels. Maybe they can use IR LEDs to reduce interference from ambient light which is mostly in the visible spectrum.

Re:Amazing (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318691)

Your ideas are crazy and impractical.
Also, they would cripple the helper monkey industry you heartless bastard.

Re:Amazing (2, Funny)

Wescotte (732385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318701)

That will never work. What happens when you want to change the channel but can't see the TV? IR only works with line of sight.

Two-way communication? (1)

i speak the truth (1293290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318437)

Okay I get it and I get the picture. But it looks like the ceiling lights are communicating with the computers, what about the computers communicating back? We would need bright LED lights on all our gadgets blinking all the time. Are these going to be focused? This sounds annoying.

Terms (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318461)

"Balls" and "box" are terms that get me in trouble. Kind of like the circular queue discussions where the pointers where named "head" and "tail."

creators offering gadget free universal networking (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318531)

do they know how to bolster an offer, or what?

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Stupid summary (3, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318541)

Cars communicating with each other is a good idea, and being worked on. Signalling that a car is braking is one obvious use, despite the stupid comment in TFS. Having the car react automatically to the car in front saves the 1+ second reaction time of the human driver, making you less likely to rearend someone. The only drawback is that you're relying on external inputs. This system won't stop for a pedestrian, or an older car (which doesn't broadcast its intentions in a machine-readable way), for instance. Radar seems a better bet for this particular application.
But there are more uses for a network between cars. Relaying congestion data is one, you could synchronize cars so they run at the same speed instead of harmonica-ing all the time (prevents traffic jams), etc.

Using LED signalling instead of radio might be a good way to avoid the problems with RF (interference, limited number of channels available).

Re:Stupid summary (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318777)

Obviously not speaking for the majority of horrendous drivers on the roads today, but as an excellent and safe driver, I don't trust anyone or anything other than myself driving my car. No matter how fast a computer works, it has nothing on a human brain in a life-or-death situation. Our brains are much more capable of taking in way more information into consideration than a computer. As a programmer, I just don't trust computers enough to make life-or-death decisions for me. Unintended side-effects, buggy code.. what happens if the computer is damaged in the accident or pre-accident situation, but the car isn't done moving yet? Am I supposed to now rely on damaged equipment to save my life? Seems a little shady to me.

Re:Stupid summary (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319049)

Dude, your brain takes a full second minimum to recognize the problem and start pressing on the brake peddle with any significant force. 1980's calculators could respond to external stimuli several orders of magnitude faster.

Computers can supplement driving performance no matter how good of a driver you, and everyone else, thinks they are. An existing, yet primitive example of this is ABS.

Re:Stupid summary (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319195)

As an excellent and safe driver who has been caught out by the 1-second delay between "oh shit" and physical action taking place on at least one expensive occasion, I'd welcome a system that can assist me in such situations.
Current implementations (radar cruise control, brake assist etc) are designed to engage only when the situation has become life-or-death, i.e. long after a competent driver would have taken action himself and changed the situation to non-lifethreatening. You're in control at all times, the system can't lock you out.

Re:Stupid summary (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319451)

As a programmer, I just don't trust computers enough to make life-or-death decisions for me.

Um, you work at Microsoft, right? =)

Because there IS non-buggy code out there. LASIK eye surgery would be impossible without the laser beams (that slice your eye's cornea) being controlled by computer. There are many other medical devices that are computer-controlled.

Fighter aircraft are "fly by wire". So's the space shuttle.

Fortunately for astronauts, fighter pilots, and LASIK patients you don't program these systems.

Re:Stupid summary (1, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319297)

Having the car react automatically to the car in front saves the 1+ second reaction time of the human driver, making you less likely to rearend someone

Not tailgating works, too. If you've ever rearended someone and your brakes worked, you're an idiot and should not be behind the wheel of an automobile.

This is NOT technology for the city. The car should ONLY decellerate/brake without human assistance when the cruise control is on.

Every time you brake, you turn momentum into heat. That momentum came from the combustion of an expensive liquid that I, for one, do NOT like to waste, as my name's not Warren Buffett.

Relaying congestion data is one, you could synchronize cars so they run at the same speed instead of harmonica-ing all the time

Again, if you bozos would allow a decent following distance there would be no need.

Here's a thought... (3, Insightful)

cjhanson (1296897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318567)

I've had the idea for a long time that the brake light system should be an LED array, which would get progressively brighter, or fill more area, or by rapid blinking, indicate the rate at which the driver is attempting to decelerate. An inch of light indicates "I'm slowing a little" and 6 inches of light indicates "I'm stopping now".

Go ahead and patent this, Microsoft.
LED by example. Get it? Okay I'll stop.

Re:Here's a thought... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319557)

LEDs aren't needed for that. Just use an old-fashioned bulb, and put a potentiometer or rheostat on the brake pedal.

I can think of a few drawbacks, not the least of which is the brake light is supposed to get your attention.

Re:Here's a thought... (1)

cjhanson (1296897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319749)

Exactly my point.. if I'm braking slowly and then jam on my brakes, you, behind me, see no difference, other than the back of my car appearing to lift up. I would think more lighting in that situation would accomplish the goal well.

I thought so too... until... (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319973)

Some cars have that. The brake light in the rear window will flash in patterns. The harder the press, the more lit bulbs vs dim bulbs in the pattern-- but when I was driving behind one of these cars for the first time, not knowing what it was, I thought it was some crazy sort of hazard light. I couldn't tell what the flashing meant at all. There would have to be some sort of standardization or public service announcement or people just won't understand what the hell is wrong with the car in front of them in the -5% of cases where cars would have this system incorporated.

Re:I thought so too... until... (1)

cjhanson (1296897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320093)

Agreed.. I can see it now.. my grandma honking and flashing and waiving at these people, trying to pull them over to let the know their "tail lamp" is broken.
Thank god she doesn't live in Los Angeles.

Your car as an intelligent system (1)

MythoBeast (54294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318617)

This is a perfectly reasonable concept. It would be awesome if my car knew a few things about the car in front of it. If it was connected to it via an LED wireless network, then it could tell a few things about the next car, and the next, and the next. This would mean that minimum following distance was no longer constrained by human reaction speed, instead being limited more by the actual deceleration capabilities of the vehicle itself. A blowout in heavy traffic would no longer result in nine car pileups.

You could tell your car to maintain safe following speed, while you just concentrate on keeping yourself in the lane. That would TOTALLY blow away existing cruise control, and could theoretically be programmed to eliminate stop-and-go traffic entirely. If this were implemented across all cars, it would save hundreds of thousands of gallons of gas on a daily basis.

Forget the network (3, Interesting)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318697)

Put two white leds in the rear bumper and a wiimote between the headlights of each car.

Hey! Give that line back! (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318709)

vision balls that are in my thought box.

Above line stolen shamelessly from Jon Stewart, referring to his take on CNN's "perception analyzer" graph in the Presidential/VP Debates.

Not that I disapprove, or anything. :D

Apparently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25318759)

Apparently, the summary author apparently likes to use certain words apparently a little too much. Apparently.

What are "normal radio waves"? Are there "abnormal radio waves"?

The summary author apparently sucks.

Not New (1)

bostonsoxfan (865285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25318907)

I'm studying electronics now and my professor was telling me about this. It is actually really interesting how it would work because slight changes in voltage across a diode lead to big current swings and since you current drive leds you just need a very low drive to do this. As for security sure there has to be line of sight but then the person hacking you needs to be in the same room. just constrains the distance not really anything else.

airplanes (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319027)

Perhaps this will finally be the down fall of Quantas [slashdot.org]

Line of sight and optical. One room only. (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319097)

They aren't wasting their time if they are getting closer to having a fast reaction from the receptors. Yes, it is primarily line of sight (unless strong enough to light up a room), but could get to fiber optic speeds. It's really the same thing but without the fiber. They will just have to think about different wave lengths to separate signals and allow multiple channels.

Intercept? (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319203)

Could you develop a device to "listen" to the small changes in electrical power to decode the data going back and forth?

Not just the car ahead of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25319227)

If all cars were networked in this fashion, you could be alerted when a car TEN cars ahead suddenly jams on the brakes. That could be pretty cool.

LED transmission has been used for years now. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25319255)

Erm, they should take a look at this:
http://ronja.twibright.com/

instead of re-researching it from scratch.
And the project is opensource.

Woyteck

Once again.... (2, Informative)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319331)

An interesting idea, stupid article, and even worse Slashdot summary. For those who couldn't read all 5 paragraphs of the article, the idea is that LEDs can be rapidly modulated, basically acting like an IR remote, only in the visible spectrum. And they can modulate so fast that it's imperceptible to the eye (AKA "vision ball")

The brake light idea that the summary innaccurately mocks would actually allow the brakes in your car to be activated when your car "sees" the brake lights on the car in front of you activate. While this is a phenomenally stupid idea, it is different from what the summary indicates. I don't know why that bothers me, should be used to that by now.

The article also states that this technology would allow devices in your home (assuming they're equipped with LEDs) to wirelessly communicate directly with you, but doesn't say how. Morse code, perhaps?

Is anybody else concerned about this statement? (1)

gemtech (645045) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319381)

"LED lights also consume far less energy than RF technology, offering the opportunity to build a communication network without added energy costs and reducing carbon emissions over the long term."
I'm not expert but short range RF power is WAY below LED lights.

Can someone fact check this?

Did they run out of pigeons or something? (2, Funny)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319527)

For those of you unsatisfied with IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers (RFC 1149), we now have IP Datagrams on Aldis Lamp!

Warning to all tailgaters! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25319571)

So I could turn these LEDs on and force the car behind me to brake? That would be great for tailgaters.

Imagine! (1)

TheRealZero (907390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319863)

Imagine the possibilities of this technology: If we used infrared light we wouldn't have to be annoyed with light shining in our eyes, then we could implement them into devices to send signals to our TVs and radios so we don't have to get up to adjust the volume! Maybe even synchronize our PDAs and phones to our computers! DIBS!

Nocturnal. (1)

Markimedes (1292762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25319979)

You know, some people who use computers (and wireless networks) a lot like the DARK. FYI.

Flight Mode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25320021)

Put these on a plane with a broadband connection and you could wirelessly network without causing the plane to crash!

2005: Been There Done That (4, Informative)

cmholm (69081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320075)

I knew I had seen an led-based point-to-point networking system described somewhere, and after a few minutes on hackaday, here it is [hackaday.com] , straight from 2005. Best part is, the linked to Ronja [twibright.com] project is open, free speech-wise (and free beer for the major league scrounger).

TV remote networking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25320187)

There's a pretty good reason why wireless technology exploded from radio signals, and not from line-of-sight (e.g. infrared) transmission. Yes, RF broadcasting broadens the possibility of eavesdropping. Yes, it consumes considerable power. It is also not very prone to interference, whereas a light-based transmission can be interrupted by almost anything - such as bright ambience, or standing in the way. The idea of a network held together by strings of light is basically just making the wires invisible.

If you're concerned about power usage and security, try plugging in a cable.

LED Pay Phone Tap (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320279)

At the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, in the Student Union on the main campus (not East Campus), there is still a bank of pay telephones under one of which is a large metal box with a single LED on it, still there even after the remodel since I was a student there. One day between classes I observed someone using that particular pay phone and seeing the LED on that box alternately flickering in concert with the person's lips, then again presumably in sync with the sound coming from the other end of that call. I've long thought that if I converted that brightness pattern back to sound, I could listen to both ends of the conversation at a distance.

And I also wondered what the purpose of that box truly was.

Big Bro (1, Insightful)

labnet (457441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25320311)

George Bush wet dream.
Mandatory encoding of the cars VIN & speed into modulation of the cars parking led lights.
Makes that big brother tracking just one step easier.

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