Medical Robotics

Light Coordinates

Posted 24 Jan 2002 at 16:14 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

This article on ABC News mentions modifying fluorescent lights to lead brain injury patients to their appointments. The fluorescent lights are modified to flicker at a high unnoticable rate to transmit binary coordinate data via light signals to a handheld computer. The handheld computer receives the light signal data, determines the current location and can then direct a brain injury patient where to go. The directions are given by a simple "you are located here you need to go there" sort of method. The computer can even speak the directions to the patient. Using this system, brain injury patients get to their appointments more often. It's interesting, of course, because such a system could also be used to help robots find their way in a building. This Article from MIT's goes into more detail of how the invention works. Other articles on the subject here, here.

It seems that each fluorescent light is fitted with some kind of location code generator. It's my guess that there's a box attached that causes the light to reptitively flicker some binary data representing a message like this light is number 39 (or just 39 over and over). The article mentioned that the cost was nominal to refit the fluorescent lights. One place I used to work had robotic mail carts that followed a line drawn on the floor. I wonder if new robotic mail carts might follow fluorescent lights instead. Beyond this idea it seems that if the light were hooked to an serial or ethernet cable, the light could be caused to transmit any message for a multitude of purposes.

What if..., posted 25 Jan 2002 at 22:12 UTC by josborn » (Journeyer) have a brain injury which prevents you from reading handhelds? :- ) Seriously though, this sounds like a good idea for any case involving directions in a building.


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