Light instead of WLAN—LiFi in sugar-cube format

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It happens all the time: You’re making your way through a trade show and realize that you absolutely have to send out a presentation including several photographs. Experienced road warriors aren’t the only ones who know that that is not a problem in theory. But in practice, less than perfect WLAN reception, slow data-transmission rates and a weak battery can turn an otherwise simple task into a nerve-wracking adventure.

In the future, using light as a transmission medium could make things a lot easier. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have developed a transceiver for optical wireless communication—and made a great deal of progress in the past few months. Since the end of last year, they have managed to double the transmission rate from 5 to 10 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). Dr. Frank Deicke’s team developed a transceiver that is about the size of a sugar cube and transmits data via infrared.

The objective is to make optical wireless data transmission a genuine alternative to wired data transfer as well as to established standards such as USB3.0, USB3.1, Gigabit-Ethernet or 10-Gigabit-Ethernet.

The considerably higher data throughput rate compared to well-known radio technologies like Bluetooth or WLAN are not the only thing that speak in favor of that happening. There are also the extremely low bit error rates and low energy consumption—an enormous advantage, especially for mobile devices such as Smartphones or tablets.

So if the battery in your device is reaching the end of its tether during your visit to the fair, if the WLAN falters, or if you just feel like taking an interesting break with future technologies, we would be pleased to have you visit us at Stand 113 in Hall A4.


Optical wireless data transmission between a mobile device and a PC/laptop. Copyright: Fraunhofer IPMS