LED lights could become network devices, too!

April 14, 2013
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Today, you've got wireless networks that use radio waves and you've got optical networks that use light traveling in tiny glass fibers. Tomorrow, if Fraunhofer Institute research comes to fruition, a combination of the two could turn led lights into network devices.

The German applied-research lab has developed wireless networking that uses rapidly blinking LEDs to transmit data through the air. The technology can send data at speeds up to 1 gigabit per second -- and by using three colors of light, triple that data rate is possible, Fraunhofer said.

The technology could be useful in crowded, interference-prone situations such as trade shows or for sending information from streetlamps to passing cars, the institute believes.

"My personal belief [is that the] first applications will be on the professional level, such as conference rooms, fair trade booths, industrial production environments, and hospitals," said Anagnostis Paraskevopoulos, a researcher with the institute's photonics network group.

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Fraunhofer's visible light communications (VLC) technology, shown in an artist's conception here, could beam data to laptops and smartphones from conventional LEDs in light fixtures.

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