Very Low-Cost Sensing and Communication Using Bidirectional LEDs

A novel microprocessor interface circuit is described which can alternately emit and detect light using only an LED, two digital I/O pins and a single current limiting resistor. This technique is first applied to create a smart illumination system that uses a single LED as both light source and sensor. We then present several devices that use an LED as a generic wireless serial data port. An important implication of this work is that every LED connected to a microprocessor can be thought of as a wireless two-way communication port. We present this technology as a solution to the "last centimeter problem", because it permits disparate devices to communicate with each other simply and cheaply with minimal design modification.