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Lightbulb = WiFi hotspot??

Some fresh news for wireless net users. Boston University's College of Engineering is launching a program, with a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, to develop the next generation of wireless communications technology based on visible light instead of traditional radio waves.

Here's the method proposed to be used: Researchers expect to hitchhike data on light emitting diodes (LEDs), to create "Smart Lighting" that would be faster and supposedly more secure than current network technology.This initiative aims to develop an optical communication technology that would make an LED light the equivalent of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Here's a diagram of what they plan to achieve

The ability to rapidly turn LED lights on and off - so fast that the change is imperceptible to the human eye - is key to the technology. Flickering light in patterns enables data transmission without any noticeable change in room lighting. With such widespread LED lighting, a vast network of light-based communication is possible. A wireless device with a Wi-fi enabled LED could send and receive data though the air at speeds in the 1 to 10 megabit per second range with each LED serving as an access point to the network. Such a network would have the potential to offer users greater bandwidth than current RF technology which is severely limiting. Ultimately they plan to replace LED's by regular light bulbs.

Moreover, since this light does not penetrate opaque surfaces such as walls, there is a higher level of security, as eavesdropping is not possible. This means no more Khalsa college hacks from laptops on the outside. Of course, as long as we eliminate windows from rooms ;) . Also, for you environmentalists, LEDs consume far less energy than RF technology, offering the opportunity to build a communication network without added energy costs and reducing carbon emissions over the long term.

But I do have my doubts:
  1. LED's are unidirectional in the fact that they can transmit data but cannot recieve it......so to enable a two way communication, a light sensor too will be needed which increases costs
  2. Would you ant to turn on thelights just to access the net?? I mean what if you prefer working in the dark?? Ever heard of anyone seeing pr0n with the lights on??
  3. The existing infrastructure is all configured for RF.....new technologies mean complete replacement of all infrastructure even though it is (almost) fully functional already.
The pro's and con's are out....now its time to actually work at this new innovative technology....lets hope for the best!!

Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires -BU Engineering Professor Thomas Little.

1 comments :

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