Beam control for indoor FSO and dynamic dual-use VLC lighting systems


Practical VLC (Visible Light Communication) systems are expected to leverage the lighting infrastructure in order to deliver data to devices in a lighting field. These devices can be static or quasistatic (e.g., laptops or IoT devices); however, it is becoming clear that the preponderance of wireless data consumption is dominated by handheld mobile devices which will exhibit varying physical orientations and 3D dynamics. Because free-space optical and visible light communications are primarily line of sight, transmitter radiation patterns and receiver field of view are very important for predicting the data performance. Given dynamic emission characteristics, there is an opportunity to adapt to the receiver. The caveat of dynamic VLC systems is that the quality and distribution of the resulting illumination must be considered as part of the dual goal of providing high quality lighting. In this paper we investigate the impact of device orientation and mobility on static and then dynamic lighting emission under a multicell lighting model. From a source standpoint we consider the performance of beam control through angular control and beam focus for one or more sources in a lighting array. Analysis and simulation demonstrate that dynamic beam and luminaire control can increase the AP coverage range by 12.8X under a 1.67 m ceiling height. Furthermore, the use of multiple sources tracking device orientation and position can mitigate off-angle performance degradation by increasing redundancy in the number of available connections. Our proposed techniques, when applied in concert, successfully mitigate common concerns about the viability of VLC and indoor FSO (Free Space Optical Communication) methods related to signal occlusion and device dynamics.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael B. Rahaim.

Additional information

This work was supported in part by the Engineering Research Centers Program of the National Science Foundation under NSF Cooperative Agreement No. EEC-0812056.

Michael B. Rahaim [corresponding author] is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University. His current research focuses on next generation wireless networks, software defined radio, and heterogeneous integration of wireless technologies including RF, OW, and VLC. Dr. Rahaim received his B.S. degree in electrical and computer engineering from RPI in 2007, and his M.S. degree and Ph.D. degree in computer engineering from Boston University in 2011 and 2015. He is a member of the IEEE and of the IEEE Communications Society. (Email:

Jessica Morrison researches the integration of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) with advanced solid-state lighting sources at Helux, a lighting technology company she founded in 2016. She completed her Ph.D. in physics at Boston University and graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Cincinnati. As a postdoctoral associate, her research is focused on visible light communications and testbed integration of MEMS micromirrors. (Email:

Thomas D. C. Little is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University. He is the associate director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA), a collaboration of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of New Mexico, and Boston University. His current research focuses on pervasive computing using wireless technologies including applications in smart indoor environments, connected healthcare, and vehicular networking. Dr. Little received his B.S. degree in biomedical engineering from RPI in 1983, and his M.S. degree in electrical engineering and Ph.D. degree in computer engineering from Syracuse University in 1989 and 1991. He is a senior member of the IEEE, a member of the IEEE Computer and Communications Societies and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery. (Email:

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Rahaim, M.B., Morrison, J. & Little, T.D.C. Beam control for indoor FSO and dynamic dual-use VLC lighting systems. J. Commun. Inf. Netw. 2, 11–27 (2017).

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  • VLC
  • ultra-dense wireless networks
  • beam steering
  • MEMS
  • dynamic wireless networks