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Scientists Use LEDs to Create 800 Mbit/s Optical WLAN

Credit: Homedesigninterior

(Image credit: Homedesigninterior)

Thanks to the work of researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications in Berlin, Germany, we could be one step closer to a reliable and efficient optical WLAN based off of conventional LEDs. The idea behind such tech is to orchestrate the transmission of data through the rapid flickering of LEDs. Although this isn't the first instance of flickering LED lights used for line-of-sight networking, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a better, faster implementation that is more practical for real life applications.

Back in May, the scientists were able to present their findings in a demonstration that revealed a data transfer rate of 100 Mbit/s, using ceiling LED lighting that spanned approximately 90 square feet. Since these LEDs flicker faster than the human eye can see, this optical WLAN technology is perfect for situations in which radio or wired networking is less practical, such as in hospitals or air planes.

Dubbed Visual Light Communication, (VLC) there are also downsides to the tech, as researchers admitted that the signal could be easily blocked if the diodes are covered or shaded. And of course the obvious hurdle of wanting Wi-Fi but not necessarily wanting intrusive LED lighting that could come with it. Because of these shortfalls, researchers suggest that VLC is by no means a replacement for traditional networking solutions, but an additional option to consider.

“It is best suited as an additional option for data transfer where radio transmission networks are not desired or not possible – without needing new cables or equipment in the house. Combinations are also possible, such as optical WLAN in one direction and PowerLAN for the return channel. Films can be transferred to the PC like this and also played there, or they can be sent on to another computer.”

With recent testing, the team has been able to achieve speeds of up to 800 Mbit/s using red, green, blue and white LEDs rather than the original white LEDs used in prior tests. To learn more about Fraunhofer's advancements in VLC technology, head on over to the release here.

Tuan Mai
Tuan Mai is a Los Angeles based writer and marketing manager working within the PC Hardware industry. He has written for Tom's Guide since 2010, with a special interest in the weird and quirky.
  • bennaye
    As an avid anime-goer, the Tuan Mai's nonchalant use of VLC has me thoroughly befuddled.
  • Pyree
    bennayeAs an avid anime-goer, the Tuan Mai's nonchalant use of VLC has me thoroughly befuddled.
    But I think VLC (the video player) will not sue VLC (the WLAN) unlike some fruit brand company fighting for the right for the name "Axpstore" (I have to censored it with an x because I don't want lawsuit).
  • alchemy69
    That's the perfect illustration for this story because it has, you know, lights in it. Brilliant.
  • back_by_demand
    Perfect for people with epilepsy, hit a big download then have a massive fit
  • geof2001
    Why use visible light then?
  • Nick_C
    ".... optical WLAN based off of conventional ...."

    surely that should be "based on"?
  • anti-painkilla
    Nick_C".... optical WLAN based off of conventional ...."surely that should be "based on"?
    It is weird to read, and it does sound unusual to hear but it is correct. May not be the best way to phrase it, but I have definitely heard it used in the media before.
  • johnsmithhatesVLC
    bennayeAs an avid anime-goer, the Tuan Mai's nonchalant use of VLC has me thoroughly befuddled.VLC is terrible for anime soft subtitles.
  • K-zon
    Im up on some ideas of wired systems of them. But obviously as said, of say a wireless system of them is probably more favorable. Just dont like into them for to long to say.

    But for the speeds, anyone one part is more of just that then many, yes?

    Still, though, Alot of practical and none prctical places though.

    Also, Wired being used loosely though to, but not so much. Yes? Again, a place of debate for differences, yes?
  • WyomingKnott
    geof2001Why use visible light then?If they used ultraviolet, people would sue them for causing sunburns?

    My guess is that equipment to emit visible light is common and well-distributed in offices and other working environments, so you get to piggy-back off it.