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Disney Research's Smart Lightbulbs Connect Toys & Devices

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Disney Research used this cartoon to illustrate how information can be shared between toys using smart light bulbs as a router.

Disney researchers are considering using light-emitting diode lightbulbs to create an Internet of Toys.

Credit: Disney Research

Disney is considering using light-emitting diode (LED) lightbulbs to create an Internet of Toys in which toys could be accessed, monitored, and acted on remotely.

In a recent study, Disney's team of scientists at ETH Zurich University in Switzerland examined the idea of an LED-to-LED communication system that could more seamlessly integrate household items with the Internet of Things. The lightbulbs use visible light to send data at up to 1 kbps, and visible light communication (VLC) technology enables them to read data without full Wi-Fi connectivity.

The team has combined off-the-shelf LED bulbs with a Qualcomm Atheros system-on-a-chip running Linux, a VLC controller module with Internet Protocol software, and an additional power supply.

"Communication with light enables a true Internet of Things, as consumer devices that are equipped with LEDs but not radio links could be transformed into interactive communication nodes," says Stefan Mangold, head of Disney Research's wireless research group.

The team wants to improve the lightbulb's transmission speed and distance, as well as add support for multiple colors.

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