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  • Received: Oct. 2, 2018

    Accepted: Dec. 27, 2018

    Posted: Mar. 8, 2019

    Published Online: Mar. 8, 2019

    The Author Email: E. W. Lam (, T. D. C. Little (

    DOI: 10.3788/COL201917.030604

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    E. W. Lam, T. D. C. Little. Visible light positioning: moving from 2D planes to 3D spaces [Invited][J]. Chinese Optics Letters, 2019, 17(3): 030604

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Chinese Optics Letters, Vol. 17, Issue 3, 030604 (2019)

Visible light positioning: moving from 2D planes to 3D spaces [Invited]

E. W. Lam* and T. D. C. Little**

Author Affiliations

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA


The global navigation satellite system (GNSS) is a well-established outdoor positioning system with industry-wide impact due to the multifaceted applications of navigation, tracking, and automation. At large, however, is the indoor equivalent. One hierarchy of solutions, visible light positioning (VLP) with its promise of centimeter-scale accuracy and widespread coverage indoors, has emerged as a viable, easy to configure, and inexpensive candidate. We investigate how the state-of-the-art VLP systems fare against two hard barriers in indoor positioning: the need for high accuracy and the need to position in the three-dimensions (3D). We find that although most schemes claim centimeter-level accuracy for some proposed space or plane, those accuracies do not translate into a realistic 3D space due to diminishing field-of-view in 3D and assumptions made on the operating space. We do find two favorable solutions in ray–surface positioning and gain differentials. Both schemes show good positioning errors, low-cost potential, and single-luminaire positioning functionality.

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