Point and Shoot Data was a project I worked on at the MIT Media Lab with three other researchers while I was a research assistant in the Changing Places research group. It was essentially an Android application and associated hardware that wirelessly transmitted data between two mobile phones using visible light, rather than standard radio waves. The demo application allowed a user to write a note on the phone, then make a swiping gesture to send it to another, nearby phone. The sending phone would transmit the data using an external, blinking LED light to a light sensor attached to the receiving phone.
The motivation for this was the observation that wireless communication today is very abstract and intangible. The majority of users have no clear understanding of what radio signals are, how they carry information, how their performance can be modified, how to initiate communication channels, or how to debug broken ones. In certain applications, we felt that a visible communications medium might provide a more intuitive and meaningful user experience. To explore this concept, we used visible light to transmit information due to its deeply rooted role in human perception and non-verbal communication.