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Talking Lights

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop an Individualized Guidance for the Blind system which is an accurate, affordable, easy-to-use indoor/outdoor assistive navigation system to aid people who are blind in wayfinding and traveling. In a separate effort, a wayfinding system for the blind using GPS for outdoor location is now being designed and built. For indoor use, however, this system requires a complex inertial guidance system for location and guidance. In this project, inexpensive optical locators will be used to improve indoor wayfinding and supply GPS-like location indoors. Software developed will allow Individualized Guidance for the Blind locators to provide GPS-like locator information indoors and permit the input of location to the personal data assistants (PDA), updating of location and elimination of errors. As a commerical product, application areas will include hospitals, care facilities, museums, malls, schools, retail stores, trade shows, transportation facilities and otherplaces where blind and people with limited vision require navigation assistance.


About Talking Lights

The Talking Lights System is an optically-based, multiple-use, context aware local area wireless system for data transmission that makes it possible to achieve GPS-like position identification and guidance indoors, where GPS doesn’t operate accurately.

The Talking Lights communications link is created by modulating the light from an ordinary light fixture to encode information. The light continues to perform its original function of providing bright illumination without visible flicker while simultaneously establishing an information link for context-aware data transmission. The system has three parts:

  • a modulated light fixture that transmits a locator signal.
  • a portable receiver to acquire the signal.
  • software to process the signal from the light and furnish data to the receiver.

As it approaches the modulated light fixture, the receiver decodes and processes data from the light and transforms it into information that can be presented in analog or digital form. The Talking Lights System can be used to form a hybrid network that combines the advantages of optical location-finding with broadband WiFi duplex data transfer.

The Talking Lights network enables the receiver to determine its location or travel path, while the Wi-Fi network communicates rich information that is tied to a specific location.

Talking Lights LLC Web site


Key Personnel

Robert Moore, Principal Investigator

Gary Livshin, Former Principal Investigator

Rod Hinman

Neil Lupton

Billy Louise (Beezy) Bentzen

Michael May

Charles LaPierre


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Sponsored by: NIDRR | Dod SBIR | NSF SBIR