Flickering Office Lights Induce Wi-Fi, Headaches

Monday, Dec 27, 2010  |  Updated 1:15 PM PDT
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Flickering Office Lights Induce Wi-Fi, Headaches

You are not paranoid, those lights can be giving you headaches.

They may make you want to gouge your eyes out with a pointed stick, but flickering office lights are learning how to transmit data like a Wi-Fi network, while saving you money at the same time.

A Minnesota company called LVX has the first commercially available intelligent LED system ready to install in an office building near you. By turning on and off way, way faster than your eyes can see, LED bulbs installed in standard lighting fixtures can transmit data to special light-sensing modems attached to computers. The modems can transmit data back the same way, creating a wireless network about as fast as a DSL line. What's the point when regular Wi-Fi is cheap and easy? The idea is that the lighting network works in tandem with traditional Wi-Fi to help alleviate network congestion in a busy office.

The unexpected bit about this system is that it actually costs less per month than most offices currently pay for their lights, even with the fancy data plan, since the LED lights are so much more efficient than the CFLs they're usually replacing. There's a lot of other cool stuff you can do with smart lights too, like automatically dimming them to save power based on ambient light, or changing their colors to direct visitors around the office, like in Star Trek: "follow the green lights to Holodeck 3."

If you're worried about these flickering lights actually causing seizures or something, it's worth mentioning that conventional fluorescent tubes are already flickering at a much slower and potentially more noticeable rate (down to 60 times a second or so), so if you haven't gone crazy yet, you'll probably be fine with these LEDs.

LVX, via Yahoo

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