Yeah, mad scientists have been trying to get the public at large to pay attention to visible light communications for years now, but the gurus over at the University of California, Riverside think that the project they're involved in holds a special kind of promise. The Center for Ubiquitous Communication by Light (UC-Light) will be funded with $3.5 million from the Multicampus Research Program and Initiatives (MRPI) competition within the University of California system, and at its core, it's hoping to unearth a magical method for linking up all sorts of electronics (HDTVs, PDAs, information kiosks, PCs, etc.) via light. You know, so your refrigerator can tell your smartphone what groceries are needed during the next supermarket stop, and that massive billboard on I-95 can beam more information that you don't want right onto your handset. If all goes to plan (and California's budget problem solves itself), the work will begin in early 2010 and last five years, after which we fully anticipate "very low-cost communication and navigation systems [to be built] on existing lighting infrastructure." And fowl in every pot. And unicorns in every garage.

[Thanks, Michael]