LightAnchors: Appropriating Point Lights for Spatially-Anchored Augmented Reality Interfaces (UIST ’19)

Augmented reality requires precise and instant overlay of digital information onto everyday objects. We present our work on LightAnchors, a new method for displaying spatially-anchored data. We take advantage of pervasive point lights – such as LEDs and light bulbs – for both in-view anchoring and data transmission. These lights are blinked at high speed to encode data. We built a proof-of-concept application that runs on iOS without any hardware or software modifications. We also ran a study to characterize the performance of LightAnchors and built eleven example demos to highlight the potential of our approach.

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Ahuja, K., Pareddy, S., Xiao, R., Goel, M. and Harrison, C. (2019). LightAnchors: Appropriating Point Lights for Spatially-Anchored Augmented Reality Interfaces. In Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology (UIST ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA. 189-196. DOI: 10.1145/3332165.3347884

We’ve open-sourced this software, and are working towards standardization – please see for more information.

This LightAnchors-enabled router transmits WiFi connection data by flashing a coded pattern on its status LED.
LightAnchors can be used to make status LEDs, like the one on this IP camera, significantly more informative.
LightAnchors can also be used outdoors to discreetly and unobtrusively carry data.
This light strip flickers its LED to encode the current power draw.
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