Two minute explainer: Plenoptic light field sensing

Lytro, one of the post powerful light-field cameras currently available.

Using cameras in public spaces to determine the activity of shoppers, office workers, or just people enjoying a walk in the park can seem an intrusion on personal space. The more personal the activity, the more intrusive cameras may seem.

Plenoptic light field sensing is a way of using light sensors rather than cameras to monitor activity and behaviour within a space. Digital signals transmitted from ‘connected’ luminaires can be ‘read’ in a similar way to that of sonar signals.

The reflected digital signals are processed to create a representation of the visual image that we usually associate with a camera. PLFC images of people within a space can describe a person’s height, whether they are standing or sitting and, perhaps in the future, the colour of the clothing they are wearing.

These sensors do not identify individuals (though this could be done by combining digital information with signals from associated signalling, such as smart phones), but they allow algorhythms  to be developed for security and safety situations in healthcare environments, for example, where patients can be monitored without their privacy being compromised.

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