Smart Lighting

Ashish Agarwal (PhD ’10), Tarik Borogovac (PhD ’09), Jimmy Chau (MS ’11), Aaron Ganick (EE ’10, MS ’12), Pattaya Hongsmatip (EE ’12), Jamesy Jean Michel (EE ’12), Gregary Prince (PhD ’15), Michael Rahaim (PhD ’14), and Zeyu Wu (PhD ’11)
Prof. Thomas Little

Funding: National Science Foundation


Background: A core goal of the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Center is to enable new kinds of control over solid state – LED – lighting systems to support a revolution in lighting and light-based environments. To this end we are investigating high-speed modulation techniques to allow LEDs to be used for communications piggybacked on general lighting. This form of communication can have significant benefits in improving privacy, data rates for streaming video, and achieving high-density of users when other techniques (e.g. WiFi) bog down.

Description: We are investigating a systems problem – the adaptation of novel LED-based materials and devices for the support of visible-light-based communication and communications networking. By exploiting the ubiquity of future man-made lighting from solid state (LED) devices we anticipate ubiquitous network connectivity. Our research is directed at the intersection of networking, free-space optical communications, and the “anywhere” computing that they enable. Examples include supporting “trickle” data dissemination in sensor networks, achieving HD video streaming in high bandwidth-density scenarios such as aircraft seating, and improving vehicular safety via robust vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

Results: In addition to developing innovative approaches to addressing communications with LEDs, we have developed several prototypes that are now available as ‘development kits’ for others to use in experimentation and research. Efforts in the coming year include work to improve data rates, IP enabling, and packaging the current prototype into units more easily adopted in home or commercial settings.


A. Z. Wu and T. D. C. Little, “Network Solutions for the LOS Problem of New Indoor Free Space Optical System,” inProceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Communciations Systems, Networks, and Digital Signal Processing 2010, Newcastle, United Kingdom, July 2010. (pdf).

A. M. Vegni, “Multimedia Mobile Communications in Heterogeneous Wireless Networks,” PhD Dissertation,Department of Applied Electronics, Roma Tre University, March 8, 2010, Part 1 (pdf)Part 2 (pdf).

A. Ganick, M. Figueroa, J. Lobo, P. Schimitsch, T. Rich, and T. D. C. Little, “Vehicular Networking Using Optical Transceivers,” Poster and Demonstration Program, MobiSys 2010, San Francisco, Calif., June 15, 2010.

J. Chau, K. Matarese, and T. D. C. Little, “IP-Enabled LED Lighting Supporting Indoor Mobile and Wireless Communications,” Poster and Demonstration Program, MobiSys 2010, San Francisco, Calif., June 15, 2010.

M. Rahaim, T. Borogovac and J. Carruthers, “CandLES – Communication and Lighting Emulation Software,” CISE Technical Report # 2010-IR-0006, June 9, 2010, (pdf).