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Multi-colour optical WiFi tech races to 3Gbps in lab tests

Wireless networking with visible light using off-the-shelf LEDs has been pushed to 500Mbps in the real world and could now reach 3Gbps, claim researchers.

A team at The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Germany have tripled the bandwidth of their technology by tuning the three colours in typical white LEDs.

Visible light wireless networking, or LiFi, is being targeted at uses like car-to-car communication for traffic management, and areas where WiFi is risky or overcrowded, like hospital operating theatres, aeroplanes and conference centres.

Multi-colour optical WiFi tech races to 3Gbps in lab tests
Optical WiFi can cut out the radio chatter

Dr. Anagnostis Paraskevopoulos of Fraunhofer HHI said: “In visible light communication, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI has set a further milestone on the way to highspeed internet from the ceiling lamp.

“As the higher frequency bands are also used for transmission, this significantly boosts the data throughput rate. This new development represents a major step forward towards optical high-speed WLAN.”

HHI’s existing white-light technology has already reached 1Gpbs in the laboratory, so they’re confident of extending it to multiple frequencies. The current system has reached up to 500Gbps over 4m at real events, and 120Mbps over 20m.

Multi-colour optical WiFi tech races to 3Gbps in lab tests
The prototype components could be compressed into bulbs and dongles

LEDs with built-in networking components could be built into car headlights and roadside signs, streetlights, indoor lighting, and the backlights of displays on smartphones, tablets, TVs and computers.

Uses range from information displays in museums or advertising hoardings, to underwater communications where some light frequencies travel better than radio.

Optical WiFi can use the same security as radio WiFi, but it’s also easy to secure by putting up walls to block the light.

The Fraunhofer HHI team is now planning to show off their souped-up system at the Fibre Optics Expo 2013 in Tokyo this weekend.


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