Qualcomm Atheros hooks up with Acuity Brands to deploy Lumicast indoor location technology

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Atheros, is working closely with Acuity Brands in the commercial deployment of LED lighting fixtures/services that use Qualcomm Lumicast technology, bringing indoor positioning capabilities and services to retailers.

According to Cormac Conroy, VP of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, Lumicast uses Visible Light Communications (VLC) to send signals from LED lights, which are then decoded by front-facing cameras on smartphones to achieve centimeter level positioning in indoor venues. It's a very precise indoor positioning technology that combines light signals and sensor information on smartphones to deliver high accuracy and orientation.

It can be applied to a number of indoor use cases such as navigation, advertising and venue analytics. Lumicast already has been deployed in more than 100 store locations by two of North America's top 25 retailers.

For Lumicast, signals/information are broadcast one-way (like a beacon) from the light fixtures to the smartphones at a very low data rate and positioning is computed locally on the smartphone, according to Conroy. He said that LiFi is also a VLC technology, but that it is more for enabling bi-directional high-speed data communications between lighting infrastructure and client devices.

Lumicast and VLC-based indoor positioning are in the early stages of being deployed by Qualcomm's lighting partners in indoor venues, Conroy told FierceWirelessTech. Today's applications are more for addressing consumer and enterprise use cases in the retail industry or other industry verticals where accurate indoor positioning is required. Lumicast SDK is integrated into the venue's indoor application to enable these use cases.

It's possible that down the line, it could be used in public safety types of situations to locate people inside buildings. "If it becomes more prevalent and wide spread in indoor venues, this can be seen possibly as another technology that can contribute/assist with emergency services and locating people," he said.

Lumicast technology includes a transmitter specification and mobile software that lighting original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can license from Qualcomm Atheros. With Acuity, the service is marketed as Bytelight Services.

"We are very excited about the opportunities that Lumicast technology provides and the enthusiastic response from the retail community in North America and Europe" said Steve Lydecker, senior vice president, IoT business unit, Acuity Brands Lighting, in a press release. "Precise indoor location, enabled by our Bytelight Services in over 12 million square feet of retail space, has made it simpler and easier to get around. And real-time and historic analytics allow the business owner to understand building traffic better than ever before."

Qualcomm also says that Lumicast technology supports its efforts in the Internet of Things. Future applications of Lumicast could include advanced use cases such as robotics for operational efficiencies in both automation and inventory management.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Intel, Qualcomm collaborate on 802.11ad WiGig interoperability
Gimbal wants to turn Bluetooth LE devices into beacons
Qualcomm says 3GPP is studying beacon technology for indoor positioning

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