Visible Light Communication Systems

Visible Light Communication (VLC) adopts the visible light between 400 and 800 THz (780-375 nm) to transmit data wirelessly. It has the potential to become a complementary technology to Radio Frequency (RF) communication. Though there has been a great deal of interest in VLC networks in recent years, the lack of an open-source reference platform for VLC networks is hindering the progress of the research community.

At IMDEA Networks Institute, we take an initial step toward this and have designed OpenVLC (www.openvlc.org), an open-source software-defined VLC networking platform for fast prototyping, which runs on a cost-effective yet powerful credit-card-sized embedded board. We interface a High-power LED (HL), a Low-power LED (LL), a Photodiode (PD) and ancillary electronics to an embedded Linux networking platform. We provide necessary primitives for implementing various Physical (PHY) and Medium Access Control (MAC) protocols (that  are implemented as Linux drivers).

OpenVLC is an open-source, general-purpose, low-cost, and software-defined research platform. It is mainly composed of three parts:

  • BealgeBone Black (BBB) board (http://beagleboard.org/black): a low-cost and community-supported development platform for developers.
  • OpenVLC cape, the front-end transceiver, including a High-power LED (HL), a Low-power LED (LL), and a Photodiode (PD) for light transmission and reception. The cape can be easily attached to the main BBB board, as shown in Fig. 1.
  • OpenVLC driver, implementing the PHY and MAC layer, and is implemented as Linux driver.

               

  (a) The OpenVLC cape                   (b) Cape plugged into the board

Fig. 1 The OpenVLC platform. The embedded board runs a Debian Linux and the OpenVLC driver to interface the OpenVLC cape to the Internet. The optical components are: 1) Low-power LED (LL); 2) Photodiode (PD) ; 3) High-power LED (HL).

Communication links supported by OpenVLC include [4]:

  • LL/HL-to-PD communication: LL-to-PD can be used in scenarios where a directional communication, e.g., secure communication is preferred; while a HL can act as a an access point to serve a number of nodes.
  • LL-to-LL communication: in OpenVLC, a software-defined TX/RX switch allows to control the operation mode of the LL between being a transmitter and a receiver.
  • HL-to-LL communication: a pair of HL as transmitter and PD as receiver can form a transceiver that acts as an access point with wide FoV; while a single LL acts a transceiver residing into embedded size-limited nodes.

Based on the OpenVLC platform, we further propose and implement the Carrier Sensing Multiple Access/Collision Detection and Hidden Avoidance (CSMA/CD-HA) MAC protocol for a network where each VLC node solely uses one Light Emitting Diode (LED) to transmit and receive data [1, 8]. The CSMA/CD-HA can i) enable in-band intra-frame bidirectional transmission with just one optical antenna; ii) reduce greatly the collisions caused by hidden nodes.

A short youtube video has been also recorded, showing the very first prototype of the platform [7, 9]. Currently, the platform has contributors from European and US academic centers.

References

  1. Qing Wang, Domenico Giustiniano (March 2016) 
    Intra-Frame Bidirectional Transmission in Networks of Visible LEDs [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, PP (99). pp. 1-13. ISSN 1063-6692
  2. Qing Wang, Danilo De Donno, Domenico Giustiniano (April 2016) 
    Demonstration Abstract: Research Platform for Visible Light Communication and Sensing Systems (Demo) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: The 15th International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN '16), 11-14 April 2016, Vienna, Austria
  3. Milad Heydariaan , Shengrong Yin, Omprakash Gnawali, Daniele Puccinelli , Domenico Giustiniano (February 2016) 
    Embedded Visible Light Communication: Link Measurements and Interpretation (Paper) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: MadCom: New Wireless Communication Paradigms for the Internet of Things, 15-17 February 2016, EWSN, TU Graz, Austria
  4. Qing Wang, Domenico Giustiniano, Omprakash Gnawali (September 2015) 
    Low-Cost, Flexible and Open Platform for Visible Light Communication Networks (Paper) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: The 2nd ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Wireless (HotWireless 2015), in conjunction with the 21st Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (ACM MobiCom 2015), 11 September 2015, Paris, France
  5. Qing Wang, Shengrong Yin, Omprakash Gnawali, Domenico Giustiniano (September 2015) 
    Demo: OpenVLC1.0 Platform for Research in Visible Light Communication Networks (Demo) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: The 21st Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (ACM MobiCom 2015), 7-11 September 2015, Paris, France
  6. Domenico Giustiniano, Qing Wang (July 2015) 
    OpenVLC, an Open-Source Platform for the Internet of Light (Invited Talk) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: IEEE Summer Topicals Meeting Series 2015 - Visible Light Communications (VisC) topical meeting, 13-15 July 2015, Nassau, Bahamas
  7. Qing Wang, Domenico Giustiniano, Daniele Puccinelli (April 2015) 
    An Open-Source Research Platform for Embedded Visible Light Networking [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    IEEE Wireless Communications, 22 (2). pp. 94-100. ISSN 1536-1284
  8. Qing Wang, Domenico Giustiniano (December 2014) 
    Communication Networks of Visible Light Emitting Diodes with Intra-Frame Bidirectional Transmission (Paper) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: The 10th ACM International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies (ACM CoNEXT 2014), 2-5 December 2014, Sydney, Australia
  9. Qing Wang, Domenico Giustiniano, Daniele Puccinelli (September 2014) 
    OpenVLC: Software-Defined Visible Light Embedded Networks (Paper) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: The 1st ACM Workshop on Visible Light Communication Systems, in conjunction with the 20th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (ACM MobiCom 2014), 7 September 2014, Maui, Hawaii, USA
  10. Qing Wang, Domenico Giustiniano, Daniele Puccinelli (September 2014) 
    OpenVLC: Software-Defined Open Architecture for Embedded Visible Light Networks (Demo) [PDF Download PDF in new window]
    In: The 1st ACM Workshop on Visible Light Communication Systems, in conjunction with the 20th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (ACM MobiCom 2014), 7 September 2014, Maui, Hawaii, USA