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LED Lights Could be Broadband Transmitters

LED lights have made a pretty big splash in lighting tech, as they are bright, long-lasting, and use much less electricity than alternatives, and they may soon also be components used for high-speed internet.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) have been developing a method of using off-the-shelf LED lights to transmit data, which means that in the future, your wireless network could be using the lights in your home.

This optical WLAN technology from HHI has reached data rates of up to 800 Mbit/s in their labs, and rates of 500 Mbit/s in real-world installations, using standard off-the-shelf LED lights.

According to HHI, we could be getting our high-speed internet from our ceiling lamps:

“The newly developed patent protected components have now achieved a transmission rate in laboratory experiments of over 1 Gbit/s per single light frequency. As off-the-shelf LEDs mainly use three light frequencies or light colors, speeds of up to 3 Gbit/s are feasible.” – HHI

Up until now, the system could only be used with a bandwidth of 30 MHz, but new components have enabled the use of higher bandwidths – up to 180 MHz. While the system is only for transmitting, not receiving, the data only flows one way, but further refinements of the technology could change that.

Proponents of the system say that while visible light communication can be limited (as soon as devices are out of sight of the transmitters, no data transmission is possible), it also has a wide range of other potential applications, including in places where wireless signals will not reach. The systems could also be an advantage in secure environments, as receivers must be in sight to access the network, which could help to keep sensitive data secure.

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