DynamicVLBC: Battery-less Visible Light Backscatter Communication in Dynamic Conditions

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Abstract

Visible Light Communication (VLC) has been gaining interest in the industry and academia for the last decade. VLC enables a high-speed communication alternative to conventional radio such as Bluetooth or WiFi and presents a solution to the 'spectrum crunch'. More recently, the combination of energy harvesting and VLC has been explored to enable battery-less devices that can communicate bidirectionally using light. In parallel, drones are being used in the industry for tasks such as warehouse management. However, very little research has been done on the conjunction of VLC and drones, even though this offers interesting research opportunities and applications.

In this thesis, we perform the first evaluation of different types of modulation techniques between a drone and base station in the context of VLC. We present DynamicVLBC: a complete system consisting of a drone ('Reader') and base station ('Tag'). We optimize this system such that the Reader can fly and the Tag can operate battery-less at an ultra-low power level. We thoroughly evaluate the system in both indoor and outdoor conditions. Our evaluations show that when the Reader is static and the Tag is externally powered, that the system can communicate up to 200cm with a BER below 1%. Moreover, when the Tag is operating battery-less, the system can still effectively communicate up to 150cm. Finally, when the Reader is airborne as well, we show that the system can still communicate up to 85cm.