Droplet (via MIT)
The Information Ecology group from MIT’s Media Lab was on-hand to demonstrate some innovations in light-based communications at MIT’s open house (2012). First on their list is a device called Droplet that lets you transfer information from a monitor or other hub to mobile devices such as tablets through the use of an RGB LED. The Droplet glows green and red depending on the time it takes to grab whatever information you want from the screen. For example, in the demonstration, the Droplet was placed on a screen to download an event on a calendar. The device blinks red when downloading and then turns green when the information is finished transferring at which point it acts as a countdown timer to that specific event. To check how much time is left simply place the droplet on any touch-capacitive device (that has the corresponding software needed installed) to see how much time is left as a digital read-out. You can also modify those settings with the Droplet.
The second demonstration centered on the groups StackAR device which also takes advantage of capacitive touch and light-based communication. However, instead of using a timer like the Droplet, StackAR makes use of a LilyPad Arduino unit which can then be used to display a schematic of the Arduino on the touch-screen display using the integrated UI software. This lets easily see how to wire-up the circuitry of the Arduino based on whatever project you’re using it for. The UI can also be used for a programming the unit, where routines can then be instantly uploaded to the StackAR through the light-based connection. Sure these are only prototypes and proof-of-concept devices, but their potential uses for light-based data transfer are incredible.