Microsoft looks at LEDs as beacons for positioning services

May 08, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
The increased use of LEDs for lighting, with the ability to use them at high modulation rates for communication, could also allow LED lights to act as beacons for positioning services.

A system to do this, called Epsilon, has been developed by researchers from Microsoft Research in Beijing, China, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Ohio State University. Epsilon, is explained in a presentation that could be found here.

The system has the advantage that with LED fixtures being installed for the primary purpose of providing light there is little additional cost to provide the beaconing system, unlike the case with radio-frequency beacons or the use of Wi-Fi.

A description on the Microsoft Research website states that Epsilon addresses several practical challenges to using visible LED lights for tri-angulate the position of devices with a light sensor coming up with localization accuracies of less than a meter in typical office environments. Guiding consumers to shops and even products are also use cases for the system. In essence the LED lights are the infrastructure and smartphone.