Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Using LED Ceiling Lights For Digital Communication

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the ceiling-light-is-helping-you-communicate dept.

Networking 143

PatPending writes "A Minnesota start-up company, LVX, is developing products under several patents and about a dozen pending applications, e.g., 'Building illumination apparatus with integrated communications, security and energy management,' that put clusters of LEDs in a standard-sized ceiling light fixture. The LEDs are in optical communication with special modems attached to office computers. The first generation of the LVX system will transmit data at speeds of about three megabits per second, roughly as fast as a residential DSL line. LVX Chief Executive Officer John Pederson said a second-generation system that will roll out in about a year will permit speeds on par with commercial Wi-Fi networks. It will also permit lights that can be programmed to change intensity and color. Pederson said the next generation of the system should get even more efficient as fixtures become 'smart' so the lights would dim when bright sunlight is coming through a window or when a conference room or hallway is empty. Hurdles: speed and installation costs. No word on the reliability and security of this system."

cancel ×

143 comments

Another link (4, Informative)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679240)

"Printer friendly" URL isn't correctly redirecting; use this URL instead [yahoo.com] . (Sorry about this.)

IRDA was 4 Mbps (2, Interesting)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679256)

I don't see how this is much better than the IRDA infrared that used to be built into laptops, printers, mice, etc. It got replaced by radio technology several generations ago.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679304)

IRDA doesn't flicker in the visible spectrum, and thus fails to cause hilarious non-fatal seizures in coworkers, which, I'm assuming, is the whole point of this new technology.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679708)

IRDA doesn't flicker in the visible spectrum, and thus fails to cause hilarious non-fatal seizures in coworkers, which, I'm assuming, is the whole point of this new technology.

The real problem there is (particularly bicycle) lighting systems which intentionally pulse at ~10 Hz. A lighting system which transmits data by inserting fast negative going pulses into LEDs is unlikely to cause problems.

Background: I ride a bike and I have epilepsy, but my EEG results suggest my condition is not photosensitive.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (2)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679712)

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

And then it's just fun.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679746)

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

And then it's time to play "find the eyeball".

FTFY

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680562)

IRDA doesn't flicker in the visible spectrum, and thus fails to cause hilarious non-fatal seizures in coworkers, which, I'm assuming, is the whole point of this new technology.

Joking yes. But being a self-proclaimed expert who hasn't even read the article my guess is that they are piggy-backing on the PWM commonly used to control LED brightness. The PWM frequencies for normal LED control are in the kilohertz range which is 100s of times faster than is visible to the human eye.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679454)

docomo demoed a one gigabit/s irda transfer a year or two ago.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (0)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679470)

A wired connection requires a physical cable to be run to a specific location through the floor or ceiling and if the decision is made to rearrange the cubicles it adds thousands of dollars in rewiring. WiFi eliminates this requirement but necessitates an extra FCC license for every connection driving up the cost of the equipment. I suspect this would initially bypass the FCC as it does not use the RF spectrum. That's not to say at some point the feds won't decide they own the flickering light spectrum as well and start regulating it down the road. That's the only benefit I can see from this just glancing at it.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679696)

Extra FCC license for Wifi?

Wifi runs in unlicensed spectrum.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (2)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680228)

Depends on how much power it puts out. Home units are low enough power they don't need any extra licensing but model for large enterprises using over 1 watt of power, do need a license.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680316)

Large enterprises tend to use many low power access points. Especially in office buildings.

Walk into (or near) any office campus with your smartphone running an wifi analyzer and you will see 10s of APs (often "hidden" by not broadcasting any SSID).

Virtually nobody uses high power APs.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34680544)

I don't really see what good high-power wifi does you... because the network needs to work both ways, and your laptop/netbook/smartphone is going to transmit at the same level it does normally. It would be like trying to have a conversation across a room with only one person yelling.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680662)

Exactly.

Which is why high power WIFI is only used on factory floors, and usually only with specialized workstations.

Even large hotels simply use commercial grade low-power unlicensed APs.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679772)

It would be interesting to know exactly how much of a device's purchase price is caused by FCC anti-interference interference(sorry, couldn't resist); though there probably isn't a single number, depending on how many devices were manufactured with one model certification, and how much shielding/redesign/clocking cleverness was required to comply; but I'd be surprised if it were high enough to drive adoption of this optical stuff, unless they have the LOS issue truly figured out and are willing to accept very thin royalties on their patents...

Since complex digital devices tend to need to be tested and certified for noninterference with licenced frequencies anyway, skipping wifi doesn't save you from the FCC(also, an increasing number of devices cater to markets that want some sort of cellular connectivity, so you can't skip that RF step) and, for relatively small-run stuff, you can always just purchase OEM wifi modules, pre-certified, and jam them into your product(this tends not to apply to hugely space-sensitive things like cellphones, or mass-market items with design-unique antenna systems, like laptops; but a surprising number of devices for commercial sale just have a little USB wifi dongle, caseless but with onboard antenna, stuck in an internal USB port or header. Dirt cheap, in quantity, works just fine through a plastic case, and is certified in itself.)

If the transmitter/receiver units are cheap enough, they might have some success against the more poorly standardized low speed/low power RF stuff(zigbee, nordic, et al.) for home automation and the like; but unless their hardware is cheap and they are willing to be very generous on licensing they'll just get lost in the soup of semi or fully proprietary low speed wireless systems. Those things are already ubiquitous; but poorly interoperable.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679780)

A wired connection requires a physical cable to be run to a specific location through the floor or ceiling and if the decision is made to rearrange the cubicles it adds thousands of dollars in rewiring. WiFi eliminates this requirement but necessitates an extra FCC license for every connection driving up the cost of the equipment. I suspect this would initially bypass the FCC as it does not use the RF spectrum.

There's the issue of WiFi having quite complex propergation patterns. Whereas with visible light to can easily tell where the coverage area and confine it to specific rooms without needing exotic building materials.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679840)

Sorry, your suspicions are wrong.

WiFi doesn't have or require F.C.C. licensing for the end users. It does have to comply with some F.C.C. rules, but any digital circuit switching at r.f. speeds does too even if not designed to radiate r.f.

There are F.C.C. rules that apply to all electronics using radio frequency energy. The goal is to limit r.f. radiation that may cause interference. Anything that has circuits switching at an r.f. rate, even power supplies, is covered by the rules. The associated testing is required whether or not a device is intended to transmit. The F.C.C. doesn't regulate visible light, but still regulates the system if the system has signals/switching at r.f. speeds (as a fast data link would).

Design, testing and certification costs are per product not per unit, so they become insignificant for anything sold in volume.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680232)

The F.C.C. doesn't regulate visible light

... yet! ;) SCNR.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679574)

On this occasion DDOS will give you an epileptic attack

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679618)

I don't see how this is much better than the IRDA infrared that used to be built into laptops, printers, mice, etc. It got replaced by radio technology several generations ago.

There were, very briefly, vaguely wifi-esque IR "access points" designed for using IRDA connections in entire rooms(as opposed to the usual point-to-point between adjacent devices case). Some even supported multiple devices. I think the amount of IR you needed to pump out to get a reliable link without forcing the user to manually handle line-of-sight pretty much killed that one, though. I think these "access points" and contentional device-device IRDA were supposed to coexist in much the way wifi and bluetooth do today; but both were horribly murdered when RF silicon got cheap.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680310)

I wonder how a 3 watt Luxeon Irda led would work in a room. If a Wiimote can pick up two tiny leds, a mammoth led should be very visible in a room no matter how the receiver is pointed.

Perfect for transmitting in a single direction. :)
Bi-directional would need work.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680470)

Yeah, my old-school iPAQ's 900MaH battery would probably not be happy about running a Luxeon for long...

On the other hand, with the absolutely spooky optical MEMS stuff and CMOS/CCD imagers you can get for absolute peanuts today, you might be able to whip up a little solid-state device that tracked 2 or 4 "target" LEDs located around the room's receiver and then steered a low power IR laser right into its lens...

That would still only work with a clear LOS, and with the emitter window less than 90 degrees away from being dead on target; but it would cut the power requirements pretty drastically...

Wholly impractical for handhelds, minimally practical for laptops; but having a dongle velcroed to the top of every cubicle partition would do just fine.

Re:IRDA was 4 Mbps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34680356)

Where's the "Monorail" and "Simpson's Did It" tags for the obscure solution to a non problem.

Seriously. I'm glad St Cloud has money to blow on proprietary lighting fixtures and modems for every connected device under the premise they "cost so little, we can't afford NOT to buy them" theory.

Company Network Hacked ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679258)

.... with a telescope!

Re:Company Network Hacked ... (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680274)

Parent was making a joke, probably, but back when 10Mbit network hubs were the latest thing the LEDs would flicker directly with activity and it actually was possible to spy on the network given determination and the proper equipment.

Possible patent suit approaching? (3, Interesting)

Deathnerd (1734374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679262)

Kohls has had technology like this in their stores for a little while now. They use the lights to update little LED price tags throughout the store. I think Fujitsu makes the tech, though I could be wrong. Anyone wanna help me out on this?

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (3, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679346)

Google wants to help (although they dont take credit for the kohls devices) http://www.altierre.com/index.html [altierre.com]

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679530)

Good idea.

When I worked at JcPenney we would waste a day just ticketing items..... and oftentimes did not finish because of customers demanding service. Having signs that automatically update is the quick and labor-saving solution. Also helps to avoid fines when the government audits the store and finds "Sale $9.99" for a promotion that ended three days ago.

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679664)

When does the government audit retail stores? They may respond to consumer complaints, but I do not believe there is a government agency that actively audits stores to find sales price violations.

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679706)

State governments routinely audit stores to verify the price charged at the register matches the price advertised on the sign. When I was at JCP the corporation had been caught twice - once by Pennsylvania in the early 90s and again by Texas in 2002.

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680050)

Whether they have been caught or not (and twice in 20 years is approaching zero errors with the millions of price tags they put out in that time) is irrelevant to the question of whether state governments "routinely audit stores" without any complaints. My understanding is that they do not, and you've said nothing that contradicts that opinion.

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1, Flamebait)

dziban303 (540095) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679958)

Good idea.

When I worked at JcPenney we would waste a day just ticketing items..... and oftentimes did not finish because of customers demanding service.

Those fucking customers and their fucking demands. Hey, asshole, can't you see I'm busy ticketing items? What, just because you pay my salary you think I should drop this mundane task to assist you?

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679608)

Kohls has had technology like this in their stores for a little while now.

A little while? My local food store had that in the early 90s. Had some weird modulator thing that plugged into the florescent lights. It was some kind of weird boost/buck converter that varied the line power / light brightness by a volt or so from cycle to cycle. I had the EE background to understand it but no one at the store knew how it worked.

The interesting thing is if you only have a couple tens of thousands of price tags, it doesn't take a very high bandwidth signal to reprice everything in a couple hours.

I have no idea what this place wants to do with 3 megs/sec, as that is tremendous multicasting bandwidth. You could almost ghost machines with that, slowly.

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (2)

Anynomous Coward (841063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679718)

Florescent lights ? Were they in bloom ?

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679972)

Well, during the "boost" cycle of a boost/buck converter, yeah, I guess.

Re:Possible patent suit approaching? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34680346)

A couple of years ago I spoke with a student at the local uni, who was encoding data in LED light flicker as part of a paper of his. Seemed neat, but I imagined that because of the one way communication and shaded corners it would only be used for emitting orientation ids for very exact indoor positioning.

Maybe that's why they added "and security, and energy management" to the patent since the communication part is old?

no computers under the desk then? (1)

slshwtw (1903272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679270)

The "integrated security" of the "illumination apparatus" means you can kill the communication link by quickly putting the computer with the "special modem" under your desk, and out of line-of-sight with the ceiling LEDs.

Re:no computers under the desk then? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679334)

Embedding it into a monitor (or having a small remote pickup) would solve that... Maybe shoot holes in the low speed, and need for the lights to be on for the network to be up?

Re:no computers under the desk then? (1)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679552)

You are also susceptible to what I would like to call "flashlight in the middle"

any chance of someone being able to purposely disrupt it?

Re:no computers under the desk then? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679940)

With enough power, you could certainly saturate whatever receiver tech they are using(presumably some sort of reasonably high speed photosensitive semiconductor, TFA isn't clear on what kind); but in the visible spectrum that sort of thing would be pretty noticeable. If they are actually just including some IR LEDs in their lamp array(which isn't entirely unlikely, "white" LEDs, since they are phosphor-coated blues or UVs, actually have lousy switching speeds because the phosphor keeps glowing momentarily after the diode is turned off. Though they could, I suppose, be using RGB arrays, which would have full switching speed...) "flood" interference would be less obvious; but still pretty unsubtle.

Because of little things like "eye safety" and "that guy in the truck with the generator and 5kw of stage lighting is pretty obvious at 300 meters" the classic "directional antenna and illegal power levels" that works so well on Wi-Fi probably won't work on this thing. On the other hand, TFA makes the company sound like they decided to go it alone, develop all their own patented tech and protocols and stuff. If the history of RF is anything to go on(Why hello WEP and the assorted nameless 900mhz and 2.4ghz cordless phone systems, we were just talking about you...) people who do that tend to make protocol and/or cryptographic mistakes. Assuming this stuff ever gets out of complete obscurity, I assume that snarky grey-hats will be flooding the system with garbage frames at defcon and you'll be able to buy little LED flashlights from ebay that exploit buffer overflows and execute arbitrary code on the microcontrollers in the ceiling fixtures...

Re:no computers under the desk then? (1)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679688)

This is not a problem: leave the modem on the desk.

Re:no computers under the desk then? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679758)

I would say that it depends. It may work just fine with reflected light so it may not be an issue.
It is an interesting idea for things like automation and data acquisition as well as location services.
imagine this in a large corporate campus. If you need to find someone or something each room would have an identifier telling you where you are.
A lamp could tell you that it is on or off, an AC unit could be reset. It will really depend on how cheap it all is.

news? (0)

MichaelKristopeit328 (1963774) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679300)

how is this news when a very large number of people have already done such a thing, and the market has shunned them for their useless ideas?

if you want security: use wires. if you want wireless: use radio

slashdot = stagnated.

Re:news? (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679352)

From TFA:

Mohsen Kavehrad, a Penn State electrical engineering professor who has been working with optical network technology for about 10 years, said the approach could be a vital complement to the existing wireless system. He said the radio spectrum usually used for short-range transmissions, such as Wi-Fi, is getting increasingly crowded, which can lead to slower connections. "Light can be the way out of this mess," said Kavehrad, who is not involved in the LVX project.

Re:news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679394)

Your mother is from TFA.

Signed,

Kristomikopeet23195573712419382901

Re:news? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679402)

More intelligent use of the spectrum is the solution, not light.

Re:news? (2)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679412)

Technically speaking, isn't light part of the spectrum?

Re:news? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679438)

*sigh* More intelligent use of the radio frequency spectrum.

Damn pedantics =)

Re:news? (1)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679620)

Damn pedantics =)

I believe you mean "damn pedants". Pedantic is an adjective.

Just sayin...

Re:news? (2)

Anynomous Coward (841063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679738)

+1, Pedantic.

Re:news? (1)

MichaelKristopeit328 (1963774) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679496)

from the implications of my post:

an industry ignored for 10 years, still crying that it provides a relevant option in the face of obvious drawbacks and alternatives is not a news item

Re:news? (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680484)

That's all well and good until the visible spectrum gets overloaded with competing and incompatible communications protocols. The way out of this mess is for upcoming 802.11 wireless protocols to get their own piece of spectrum.

Re:news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679386)

slashdot = stagnated.

This from the /. Troll with dozens of /. accounts. From

http://slashdot.org/~MichaelKristopeit300 [slashdot.org]

now through

http://slashdot.org/~MichaelKristopeit328 [slashdot.org]

Re:news? (0)

MichaelKristopeit329 (1963778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679518)

this from the coward possibly too ignorant to create a single account

why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679644)

I'd just like to congratulate you on the excellent work you've done on your website:
http://michael.kristopeit.com/ [kristopeit.com]

It sucks that you're claiming copyright on that excellent design, otherwise I would steal it immediately. I figure though that I can just add a 4th circular link to my two sentences on a white background. the official anonymous coward website is gonna blow you out of the water like you're 8 Minute Abs.

Re:news? (1)

MichaelKristopeit329 (1963778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679726)

keep making promises. i'd just like to congratulate you on your perfect record of not fulfilling any of the claims you've made.

why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:news? (1)

MichaelKristopeit329 (1963778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679676)

the truth = troll.

slashdot = stagnated with marketeers attempting to lie to anyone that will listen, while attempting to silence anyone who points out their hypocritical ignorance.

Re:news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34680286)

the truth = troll.

slashdot = stagnated with marketeers attempting to lie to anyone that will listen, while attempting to silence anyone who points out their hypocritical ignorance.

Yet you still come here. Drunk? Drugs? Brain cell count low?

Re:news? (1)

MichaelKristopeit329 (1963778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680398)

your admission of the truth of the preconditions i present is troubling... you're an ignorant hypocrite.

why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Security of the system? (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679302)

If it operates in the infrared spectrum, the bonus is that most glass blocks it, so it would be harder to get a signal. The downside is, a sufficiently sensitive thermal camera with LoS to the bulb or a reflector in LoS with the bulb would give it to you.

Re:Security of the system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679396)

Fuck LEDs. That's why I use... LAZARS!!! Security = beam splitter = my data was tampered with.

Coupled with my proprietary "Double Retina Singularizer" beam, and "WARNING! Do NOT look into laser with remaining eye!" poster; I feel my datas are safe.

Re:Security of the system? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679456)

Although I know that you're being sarcastic and a troll... I must point out that unless your laser is operating in a complete vaccum, there is some diffraction of the beam thanks to particles of dust and what-not in the air.

Re:Security of the system? (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679444)

If it operates in the infrared spectrum, the bonus is that most glass blocks it, so it would be harder to get a signal. The downside is, a sufficiently sensitive thermal camera with LoS to the bulb or a reflector in LoS with the bulb would give it to you.

Infrared devices of the kind that you're describing don't operate in the thermal part of the spectrum. They use near-infrared light, which is easily visible through most kinds of glass.

If you want Security, use Crypto (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680618)

Even if windows gave you some filtering, you'd still have to deal with insiders, virus-infected users, etc. If you want security, you still need to use crypto.

Re:Security of the system? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679750)

Actually glass is transparent to Infrared, which is why camera sensors have a sheet of glass over them which has a very expensive coating on the surface that blocks near and mid IR frequencies. I think you might be thinking of the UV spectrum which passes far less easily through standard glass.

What need is this fulfilling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679342)

Saving you from running cable that last 6 feet?

Re:What need is this fulfilling? (1)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679724)

Having this in offices/factories would eliminate 'network' from the list of worries when you restack cubes, or re-arrange focus factories.

Re:What need is this fulfilling? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679930)

Saving you from running cable that last 6 feet?

It saves the company from running cable that last average of 100 feet or so from the wiring closet to each desk, multiplied by the number of desks on the floor (in this building there are about 100 desks per floor) multiplied by the number of times cube moves take place (you don't want to know how often this is, but triennial is not far from the truth) multiplied by the cost for an electrician to run a single line of cable. I think the average cost to pull a single run ranges from about $200-$400 on up, depending on the city and state, and that's in a newer building designed to have cable runs to desks. If you consider a older building with no pre-existing trenches in the floor, the costs treble.

And LED light fixtures are more efficient than fluorescent tubes. Electricity costs spent on lighting will be cut in half or more. LEDs have a much longer lifetime than fluorescent tubes, and will cut maintenance visits to replace bulbs by a factor of 10.

The numbers multiply out rapidly. Fixed wiring and fluorescent lighting might cost a company several hundred dollars per employee annually to run and maintain. A Fortune 500 company might have 10,000 employees or more, so that could be tens of millions of dollars a year in savings.

Of course, there are the offsetting expenses. This licensed and patented blinkenlight technology isn't free. It needs expensive LED lamps to be installed at each light fixture. It will need ethernet runs to each fixture to carry the data, if the power lines can't do it, or if it doesn't use RF. It'll require special light receiver dongles for each PC and laptop. And this new technology won't be bug free. It will have maintenance costs of its own, not to mention a few rounds of upgrades as people realize they screwed up the security protocols when they first invented it (WEP is neither gone nor forgotten.)

So far, 802.11 is much cheaper as the components are off-the-shelf, but the band is crowded and congestion isn't improving over time. This looks like one way to mitigate it, but until they address the low bandwidth I doubt it will take off.

This isn't their only product. (4, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679366)

They're also working on a getting a patent for a new modem where you just set the phone headset right on the modem, by sticking both round parts in little earmuff thingies. Apparently it's only good for a couple hundred bits per second now, but they claim the next version will reach speeds in excess of 1000 bits per second. No word on whether it will work with cell phones.

Re:This isn't their only product. (1)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679524)

But can you war-dial with it?

roughly as fast as a residential DSL line. (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679382)

Or cable line (Comcast Economy at 1.5 Mbit/s at an outrageous $45).

Re:roughly as fast as a residential DSL line. (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679926)

Ouch. That's rough. You would almost be better off with something like shitty HughesNet with their 250Mb per day bandwidth cap. Of course latency would be an issue. Also, who's the asshat that modded C64 offtopic? I suppose the bit about comcast doesn't add anything useful to the discussion, but it is at least partially related to the article at hand. If anything my comment is offtopic.

'communicating' about almost nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679404)

an 'art form' in & of itself. keep it light, that's stuff that matters

Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679428)

From what I've read about this, while the LED lights are optical, the transmission line, aka the power line will still be used to carry data transmissions to and from the LED lights, I don't see how this or any other BPL tech being allowed by the FCC then again anything these days is allowed to pass through and transmit whatever it wants all over the Shortwave radio bands under FCC Part 15 rules, Plasma TV's being just one example which plasters the lower shortwave radio band with an insane amount of interference. Please lets stop using power lines for data transmissions, all it does is cause headaches and takes a dump all over the shortwave band! We've already got WiFi, we don't need yet another standard that is just going to end up plastering interference all over the entire street, and probably causing rife with our bodies as well. Just imagine what the implications would be of this, every person in your street or unit could then have a hardwired connection to your ethernet network as long as they knew the correct password, usually default, no need to use high powered wireless adapters anymore.... I can see how a means of optical data transfer would be a good idea over infrared, It would be more healthier for our brains than wireless, IRDA springs to mind, but as soon as you put the blanket over your laptop the signal drops out completely. Its a worthless technology which will just end up spluttering interference over the entire lower shortwave band, making the valuable and irreplacable shortwave band useless for long distance DX contacts, what happens when we need that band in times of emergency? Oh wait, we can't use it because somebody needs their broadband fix, doh!

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679478)

Magic Decoder Ring:

QRM means "radio interference"

HAM means licensed amateur radio operator

BPL means Broadband over Power Line

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679554)

You forgot LED Light Emitting Diode :oP

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679546)

CQ, CQ, CQ DX, CQ DX, this is Executive One Foxtrot calling CQ DX.

Just static, must be the lights. ;)

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679584)

CQ, CQ, CQ DX, CQ DX, this is Executive One Foxtrot calling CQ DX.

Just static, must be the lights. ;)

Hi Hi :) Its a massive problem in some areas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK3MuTPlHS0 [youtube.com] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6sYD3C0jo8 [youtube.com] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGA4MCNeN7c [youtube.com]

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679572)

I think that's what the patents are for. They don't use BPL. The light fixtures are located in dropped ceilings. Above the ceiling each light fixture has another light sensor. The data comes from yet another lightbulb even higher above the dropped ceiling. Those really high up lightbulbs use WiFi.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679648)

I think that's what the patents are for. They don't use BPL. The light fixtures are located in dropped ceilings. Above the ceiling each light fixture has another light sensor. The data comes from yet another lightbulb even higher above the dropped ceiling. Those really high up lightbulbs use WiFi.

http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=(%22building+illumination+apparatus%22.TTL.)&OS=ttl/%22building+illumination+apparatus%22&RS=TTL/%22building+illumination+apparatus%22 [uspto.gov] Go there and search for "BPL" and "BOPL"

[0088]The lights shown in FIG. 5, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention, will have AC wiring with data carriers such as S-BPL, and static locations encoded into the system. Thus a person 190 entering a hallway 192 with a communications badge 170 could use only those lights needed for his travel. As the person progresses toward a destination, the lights behind may be no longer needed and so may be programmed to turn off.

Power, which may be either AC or DC current is coupled through a power line bridge 150 with data from a network cable input, for example. The source of the data is not critical to the operation of the present invention, but may include various computer outputs such as might, for exemplary purposes, include control processor output or network connections such as commonly found on Local Area Networks (LAN), Wide Area Networks (WAN) or through the Internet. In accord with one embodiment, the wiring between power line bridge 150 and LED light source 161 is shielded by passing through a conduit or the like, defining a Shielded Broadband-over-Power-Line (S-BPL) connection that is both resistant to interfering communications and also produces almost no radiant energy.

And:

[0085]As seen in FIG. 4, the electrical wiring in the hallways and/or rooms may include BOPL.

At least they are considering using shielded power cabling, aka "S-BPL", but I would think using WiFi would be a wiser choice, one lousy installation of S-BPL can wipe out half a building with radio interference, and what happens to the radio signal once it reaches the end of the line? aka the light socket? are they going to be installing shielded light sockets too? I Hardly think so.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (2)

pregister (443318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680298)

No.

Its lightbulbs all the way up.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679752)

From what I've read about this, while the LED lights are optical, the transmission line, aka the power line will still be used to carry data transmissions to and from the LED lights, I don't see how this or any other BPL tech being allowed by the FCC

How is that not a problem for (say) cat 5 cable? Maybe because it consists of twisted pairs? So twist the power cable, or shield it, or plug your cat 5 directly into the light fitting as the data input.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679892)

You can't twist power cable, bad things happen, like current appearing on the neutral line from the live line, and things like reflected power heating up the cable, instead of transmitting power the cable will then just act as a heater, and a large amount of current making it back to the transformer, burning that out and tripping fuses, among other things. Hence why you get a warning sticker on every appliance with a really long extension cord on it, please don't lay the power cable in a circular fashion. And connecting CAT5 to anywhere near where a light socket is, will be a spectacularly bad idea, for example: one outside light socket gets struck by lightning and the lightning then makes the very short (1-2 centimetre) trip to your ethernet socket then suddenly your entire network sees millions of volts over every switch and computer in the building before its finally earthed out in the equipment racks containing all of your servers.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679984)

At least this is true in a single phase system, 3 phase systems can be twisted to a certian limited extent, its called Transposition. and is done to balance out the voltage and current of each phase with one another. Dunno what effect it would have on a single phase transmission system.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679986)

I was thinking more about modulating the DC feed to the LEDs but as you point out the data and power circuits are going to have to come together at some point and I suppose the solutions to that problem are isolation and grounding. Once standards are developed for both it should go okay. Its possible to do it safely, even if the switches have to be on a fibre backbone, or some such.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680014)

I was thinking more about modulating the DC feed to the LEDs but as you point out the data and power circuits are going to have to come together at some point and I suppose the solutions to that problem are isolation and grounding. Once standards are developed for both it should go okay. Its possible to do it safely, even if the switches have to be on a fibre backbone, or some such.

I suppose you could have a CAT5 switch in every section of a building which feeds data to every light socket via means of CAT5, but uses a fiber backbone for the long haul back to a central point, that would prevent lightning from passing any further past that room or section of a building. But I would imagine maintenance after a lightning strike or power surge would then require the complete disassembly of the entire roof to remove all of the dead and melted CAT5 and power cabling, not too different to what would normally happen if a normal light socket got struck by lightning to be honest, definitely more costly however.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (1)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680086)

What I would like to see is a combination of this technology along with laser technology to distribute throughout an entire room invisible laser light, along with a fiber optic cabling that is tacked onto the side of power line cabling, its a sensible combination of power distribution and data distribution all rolled into one single power cable, so every light socket then automatically becomes a high bandwidth laser reception and transmission point, and every portable device then transmits back to the light socket via means of laser. But that would be amazingly costly at least in today's market, a decade or two down the road and this might just be possible, would definatley be pretty cool to have every light socket and every room an access point for unlimited bandwidth with future proofing built into it.

Re:Rife with QRM, HAMs will NOT be happy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34680530)

When was the last time shortwave was used during an emergency where tech like this could have interfered? I'm being serious here, though I know it might sound like trolling. I would think that in any emergency where shortwave would be useful, tech like this stuff would be knocked out or otherwise not functioning very well, wouldn't it?

one word for stability and security of system: (1)

MichaelKristopeit329 (1963778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679628)

No word on the reliability and security of this system.

here's one: SUCK.

Bozos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34679732)

Give me symmetrical transmit and receive speeds or give me something else!

useless (3, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679792)

The first generation of the LVX system will transmit data at speeds of about three megabits per second, roughly as fast as a residential DSL line.

Is that physical layer rate? If so, what's the rate after protocol overhead?

Let's assume that is the physical layer rate. Which would make it three and a half times slower than 802.11b, and 18 times slower than 802.11g, which is virtually everywhere. And, drumroll please, at least one hundred times slower than 802.11n, which is 300-600Mbit/sec (physical layer speed.)

cellphone (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680090)

3Mbit/sec is plenty for voice and texting. With every room/hallway fed separately (via fibre) you can run every single cellphone in the building without using RF. If you wanted to eliminate exposure to RF/EM fields that would certainly help. Also you can modulate different colours independently to multiply bandwidth. Your so called white room lights could easily consist of a dozen LED's tuned to a specific frequency. Also given that cheap fibre systems can use LED's as transmitters and your total bandwidth could easily reach 1000 MBit/sec range.

Re:cellphone (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680300)

The trouble with 3Mbit/s is that, while it is luxury by the standards of "ambient" devices(ie. anything that you would consider using X10, GSM/SMS, zigbee, assorted proprietary facilities automation stuff, etc. for) it is painfully low unless the ratio of computers to light fixtures approaches 1(and, not just light fixtures; but optically separated light fixtures that don't interfere with one another; if this is anything like RF wireless, that physical layer rate has to be shared between all devices in the same area).

The kicker is line of sight: Users don't want cellphones that stop receiving calls when they pocket them and, while desktops and laptops aren't likely to be a problem, IT pushing 100megs of patches to each workstation on Monday morning while everyone tries to access their network shares will be.

Potentially promising, if cheap enough, for thermostats and light switches and wall clocks, and every other little device that would be a lot easier if you could just talk to it at even a few hundred bits/second every few minutes; but a lousy fit for anything pocketable or data-heavy, unless they seriously bump the speed.

From unpleasant experience, I can say that 802.11G is noticably worse than basic 100mb ethernet for even a single device(not to mention, common system-imaging products tend to only support wired networks and you lose PXE and WOL). Get a roomful of systems, even with multiple high-end APs, and you are looking at sub-10Mb rates. N is better; but not as better as one might like, though a real improvement for residential scenarios that were marginal under G.

Think of the possibilities (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679848)

Hide a sensor anywhere nearby, and you can read all the internal traffic.
Drop a tiny node in a plushy on someones desk, spewing out all sorts of Window virus, and see how long it takes for the IP staff to find it.
Shine a modulated laser beam through a window, and disrupt all the network traffic in an office.

Spying (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680150)

Modify all the lights produced by a factory to carry network traffic, but don't advertise it. Modify all cellphones (in software) to listen for that network, and send back a ping when it gets a connection. Make a list of all the replies and wait for a target of interest. You've now got an unmonitored link to that targets cellphone/pda/laptop. This would be very useful for spying on Iran/China/Interpol etc. If the system rarely sends traffic then the odds of accidentally finding it is very low. And yes, even though China makes everything they just build to plan so they wouldn't know about the "extra" bits.

Might be useful with SAD light therapy LEDs (1)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34679942)

Light therapy [wikipedia.org] for Seasonal Affective Disorder [wikipedia.org] ("SAD") can be implemented with LEDs. While it's typically used in 30min bursts first thing in the morning, I wonder if it can be spread out through a longer time and worked into standard lighting via this kind of array. Very intersting...

IBM did this decades ago (1)

bernieS (834839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680108)

IBM has/had key patents in this area for decades, and offered wireless office networking from ceiling-mounted LED lamps about 30 years ago. Some of those patents were apparently used in the first wireless PC keyboard--for the PCjr (aka "Peanut")--the second version of which was actually a very nice wireless keyboard. I'm assuming IBM's patents in this area are what kept other optical wireless keyboards and networking gear off the market. -bernieS

Re:IBM did this decades ago (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680384)

Either they licensed them, or they lapsed; but optical wireless remained relatively uncommon, outside of IRDA(and, of course, almost every remote control ever made, except for the earliest acoustic models and a few fancy BT or wifi networked ones).

For whatever reason, there was one area where absolutely enormous numbers of IR wireless keyboards showed up: Hotel TV entertainment systems(I think "lodgenet" may have been one, my memory is a little fuzzy). For various usurious fees, you could use the keyboard to browse through pay-per-view movies(Adult titles euphemized on your bill for your convenience when expensing the room...), play a few little games, change channels, maybe call up weather reports.

For them, since hotel guests will steal everything and the towels if it isn't nailed down, the fact that IR keyboards showed up basically nowhere else on the market was a virtue; because it reduced the keyboards' tendency to walk(I'm sure a decent hardware hacker would laugh at whatever obfuscation they did; but Joe Consumer would find that nothing he could buy would talk to the things...)

I don't know whether there was a patent licensing deal going on, or whether LOS problems and the ubiquity of cheap-and-ghastly proprietary RF dongles killed them for the home market; but I've never seen an IR keyboard outside of a hotel room.

I just can't see why this has to be wired (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680208)

I just can't see why this has to be wired.

I mean, don't LED lights get their energy from the aether?

But... I'm already doing this! (1)

Abuzar (732558) | more than 3 years ago | (#34680626)

WTF?! Can they really patent this? I mean, I'm using LEDs mounted high up on walls to transfer data... does that mean I'm violating a patent? I got the idea out of a forrest mims booklet!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...