Now blinking LEDs can transmit information to cell phones via light


I’m not really sure if this is good or bad news for end consumers, but a couple of Japanese companies have developed a technology that makes it possible to transmit information from blinking LEDs fixed on advertisements to cell phones – using only light. The companies involved in the development include some big names such as Toshiba or NEC.

With this new system, Japanese cell phone users don’t have to scan the ubiquitous QR codes anymore to access more information on a certain product or to get coupons but can obtain the data without being physically close to the ads. If you have an ad measuring 1sqm and place LEDs on it, for example, the target user can stand as far as five meters away (the distance can be longer in the case of larger ads). If the users are interested in what’s being offered, it’s enough to point the cell phone to the ad to instantly view the information on the screen.

The LEDs blink about four million times per second and (obviously) require the use of a light-receiving handset (sorry for the silly picture – there are no official photos of the LED system yet). Advertisers can change the blinking frequency to change the content of the information they send to their potential customers.

The technology is on track to be commercialized by 2013.

Via Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]