Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In-store navigation using Philips LED lighting

Here’s a novel use of lighting: use it for navigation. That’s what Philips is trying with their new VLC LED lighting products. 

The VLC system acts like an in-store GPS system, guiding customers to the correct aisle and shelf where they can find the product they’re interested in. It could also be used to download coupons or recipes to the consumer’s phone.

VLC, Visible Light Communication, is built into these special Philips bulbs. These LEDs broadcast a pattern that can be seen by the camera on a smartphone (people can’t see the short pulses that are used for this signaling.) The idea is to both save money on electricity for lighting (these LED cost 50% less to operate than traditional lighting) and at the same time provide this useful service for shoppers.

The system is currently running in a Carrefour supermarket in France – no word on when/if it will spread to other stores.

Here’s a video that describes the system in more detail:

Could this system be used in warehouses for directed pickup / putaway or for locating equipment? Or perhaps to help people navigate large offices? I'd use such a system to navigate big-box stores...

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