Passive Sensing and Communication Using Visible Light: Taxonomy, Challenges and Opportunities

Qing Wang, Marco Zuniga

For more than a century, artificial lighting has served mainly for illumination. Only recently, we start to transform our lighting infrastructure to provide new services such as indoor localization and network connectivity. These innovative advancements rely on two key requirements: the ability to modulate light sources (for data transmission) and the presence of photodetectors on objects (for data reception). But not all lights can be modulated and most objects do not have photodetectors. To overcome these limitations, researchers are developing novel sensing and communication methods that exploit passive light sources, such as the sun, and that leverage the external surfaces of objects, such as fingers and car roofs, to create a new generation of cyber-physical systems based on visible light. In this article we propose a taxonomy to analyze these novel contributions. Our taxonomy allows us to identify the overarching principles, challenges and opportunities of this new rising area.

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