Skip to main content

Acuity shows VLC indoor location solution based on ByteLight acquisition

At the recent PLACE Conference in New York I had the pleasure of seeing a demo of Acuity's indoor location positioning based on LED light modulation. Acuity acquired ByteLight a few months ago, and Acuity's indoor location solution is now incorporating ByteLight's technology.

We've discussed LED modulation for indoor location positioning before (here and here), and Acuity is not the only company bringing it to market. But the demonstration that I saw was very impressive, and Acuity is a huge player in the lighting space. The fact that a huge lighting company is focusing heavily on indoor location shows how strong the interest is in this area.

LED modulation is a technique that enables every LED lightbulb to transmit a unique identifier by making tiny changes to the lightwaves they shine. These tiny lightwave modulations cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be detected and decoded by the camera on a smartphone or tablet. Software on the devices can detect which ID's are being transmitted by nearby lights and calculate how far away and at what angle each of the lights are. The devices then use a technique called triangulation (or multilateration) to calculate their own 3D position and orientation.

Acuity reports that their solution can give indoor location position to an accuracy of 5-10cm, with vertical accuracy of 20cm. which is as accurate as any other indoor solution running on smartphones, and more accurate than most. This solution joins the ranks of other indoor location solutions delivering sub-meter accuracy. The tradeoff of the LED modulation approach is that mobile device cameras use a lot of energy, resulting in battery drain.



In these pictures we see the Acuity booth and their location positioning demo. See the demo in action in the video below.

If you look closely in this picture (click on it to see it full-size), we see an artifact of the LED modulation. The horizontal lines across the light do not show in pictures taken of other lights, and are due to the LED modulation that signals this light's ID.

The biggest trade-off in this approach to indoor location, of course, is the requirement to replace a site's lights with Acuity's LED lights, and to equip them with the Acuity controller that carries out the LED modulation. Acuity and others are promoting their solution in terms of long-term savings on electricity and maintenance, but it is still a cost that must be considered. 

Acuity is not the only companies delivering VLC technology in LED lighting. GE Lighting and others are delivering similar solutions, and Qualcomm QTI is delivering related technology, and others are researching the area. But Acuity is a company devoted to lighting, and bottom line, their technology looks great.

One interesting aspect of Acuity's solution is that they are also using BLE beacons to track a device's location, albeit less accurately, when it is in the user's pocket. This enables their solution to deliver geofencing, and "waking up" when nearing a particular area and notifying the user of a reason to open up the device.

LED modulation for indoor location positioning has been the subject of R&D for years, and it's great to see it continuing to reach market! Learn more about VLC and other indoor location technologies in this comprehensive report.

Now check out the video of the Acuity demo.....




Popular posts from this blog

Intel demos indoor location technology in new Wi-Fi chips at MWC 2015

Intel made several announcements at MWC 2015, including a new chipset for wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) in mobile devices. This new chipset, the 8270, include in-chip support for indoor location positioning. Below we explain their technology and show a video of it in action. With this announcement, Intel joins Broadcom, Qualcomm and other chip makers in moving broad indoor location positioning into mobile device hardware.

The transition of indoor location positioning into chips is a trend identified in the newest Grizzly Analytics report on Indoor Location Positioning Technologies, released the week before MWC 2015. By moving indoor location positioning from software into hardware, chips such as Intel's enable location positioning to run continuously and universally, without using device CPU, and with less power consumption.

Intel's technology delivers 1-3 meter accuracy, using a technique called multilateration, generating a new location estimate every second. While 1-3 meter …

Seeing Quuppa's indoor location technology at MWC 2015

I first met Fabio and Kimmo from Quuppa in 2012, before Quuppa existed, when they had spent years researching indoor location positioning technologies at Nokia Research Center. Less than a year after that they formed Quuppa, independent of Nokia, to bring their technology to market. At the time I called Quuppa "the newest and oldest in indoor location positioning."

Fast forward two and a half years. Their technology has reached market, it can now track both smartphones and BLE devices, and it's accurate to within 20-50cm. Before reading more about their technology, take a look at a video of their demo in action:



Grizzly Analytics has analyzed indoor location technologies by over 150 companies, and virtually all of the radio-based technologies operate by measuring the distance between the device being tracked and other radio devices, and using these distance measurements for either multilateration or fingerprinting. For example, the well known BLE beacons measure a device…

33 Indoor Location Technologies at Mobile World Congress 2017

The number of companies exhibiting indoor location technologies at the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) skyrocketed to 33!

Before MWC started, we released our Guide to Indoor Location at MWC, with 23 companies:


During the conference we notified our guide recipients of 10 other indoor location exhibitors that we saw. (Sign up here to receive our guide and to be on our mailing list for next year's MWC.)

This is many more indoor location related exhibits that previous years. The area is growing by leaps and bounds! Our recent report on indoor location technologies analyzed and profiled almost 200 companies!

Here are some videos, so you can see the technologies in action, followed by a list of the other indoor location companies that were at MWC.

First up is Philips Lighting, with high-accuracy indoor location positioning based on LED light modulation and visible light communication (VLC) technology:




Next comes Estimote, makers of Bluetooth (BLE) beacons, who introduced self-mapping b…