ByteLight gets funding to develop LED-based indoor positioning technology

GPS-like system from startup ByteLight uses LEDs to transmit signals to smartphones in applications such as customer guidance in retail shopping applications.

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ByteLight announced that it has received $1.25 million in funding, led by VantagePoint Capital Partners, to develop a GPS-like indoor positioning system that uses LED lighting to transmit location data to smartphones. The company envisions applications such as retail where a store can send customized information to customers and then guide them to merchandise of interest.

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LEDs signal smartphone camera

"Our platform makes it easy for shoppers to navigate retail stores and find products, manages and optimizes enterprise employee operations, turns mobile devices into tour guides within a museum or public building, and helps people find colleagues and booths while attending trade shows or other events – the applications for this technology are truly endless," said ByteLight CEO and cofounder Aaron Ganick.

The technology will work by modulating LED light in a matter that is imperceptible to the eye, but that can convey data bits to a sensor such as the camera integrated in smartphones. Essentially, the LED lighting just needs to send a fixture ID to the smartphone that can either have a local database of fixture locations or that can access exact location coordinates from data stored on a server using a wireless connection.

During the installation/commissioning process, the coordinates for each fixture must be precisely determined and stored. ByteLight says that the technology can offer accuracy to within 1m, using location data from multiple light fixtures.

The details of ByteLight's business plan are still emerging, but the company hopes to license the technology to lighting manufacturers that would then integrate the communication capability into their solid-state lighting (SSL) products. The company believes that the location services will provide added functionality that help justify the investment a business makes in LED lighting.

ByteLight CTO and cofounder Dan Ryan said, "By transforming lighting into a platform, ByteLight enables venue owners and tenants to turn an infrastructure cost into a valuable source of data and a means by which they can communicate to customers and employees indoors with pinpoint accuracy."

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