Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Drone plays games with children in Dutch hospital

Steve Rogerson
June 20, 2017



Children in a Dutch hospital were kept amused by playing tic-tac-toe with a drone developed in a collaboration between Philips Lighting and students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/E).

The autonomous, indoor drone uses visible light communication (VLC) technology from Philips to navigate. The drone, developed by student team Blue Jay, was demonstrated at the Maxima Medisch Centrum teaching hospital last week.

Blue Jay’s first autonomous, domestic drone goes beyond serving a coffee and can play a game of tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses) with children who communicate with the drone through hand gestures. Additionally, the drone can pick up and deliver objects to a location to assist the less mobile.

The drone uses VLC technology from Philips, enabling it to pinpoint its location, navigate and act autonomously. This technology enables ceiling lights to act like an indoor GPS and transmit their location through a modulation of the light, which is imperceptible to the human eye, but detectable by smart devices such as drones. The wireless operation between the drone and its ground station is made possible by communications technology from NXP

Blue Jay established the world’s first Drone Café. The temporary café had drones picking up and delivering items to tables, navigating by VLC. Partners of Blue Jay are TU/E, NXP, Philips Lighting and Fourtress.

The camera on the drone does not record, so no personal data are collected. Philips VLC is privacy protected and will not ask nor store any personal data.

Each light fixture is using one-way transmission of a luminaire ID or code to the drone using VLC.