Guiding Lights for the Great Indoors

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Holiday shopping is already beginning – that time of year when we dart frantically from aisle to aisle trying to find just the right gifts for our friends and family, and to ready our homes for the season. But imagine with me for a moment what it would be like to have your own personal guide to help you map out an efficient route through the store. No more combing aisles to find that perfect shoe-rack, or having to book it the entire length of a Super Target to get that pair of headphones you forgot.

A new startup called ByteLight is working on an innovative new idea for an indoor GPS-like system with the help of LEDs and smartphones. The idea is to have an app or program for the phone that guides shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for within a store (and even find discounts on products).

Instead of sending a signal out to space like a normal GPS, your phone would connect wirelessly with the LED lights in the store to guide you where you want to go.

For the system to function, the LED light bulb would blast a specially designed light signal to the camera of your smartphone to determine your location. The signal would consist of blinking patterns of light, too rapid for the human eye to notice. The technology would be able to detect a person’s location within one meter, and do it in less than a second.

To get the system to actually work for you, ByteLight’s software would need to be installed on your smartphone and the LED lights would need a special chip to send the signal.

The chip within the LED would be cheap to add, and would use the shopper’s location to help them find their way to the products they want, also delivering targeted ads. Any current smartphone camera would work with the system.

To make this idea a reality, it would require much coordination among LED manufacturers, retailers, and app developers. Much of its future depends on the success of current LEDs on the market.

ByteLight has already raised $1.25 mil and is doing field trials with several undisclosed companies.

Want to learn more? Check out this video from ByteLight:

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.