Germany's Fraunhofer Institute prepares to show off Li-Fi hotspot at Electronica

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden, Germany, is ready to shine the light on its communication modules that can wirelessly transfer data at a speed of up to 1 Gigabit per second over a distance of up to 10 meters.

The optical technology, which is especially designed for industrial customers, is one of Fraunhofer IPMS' highlights at this year's Electronica, an electronics trade show that is being held in Munich from Nov. 11-14.

Various universities around the world are studying light fidelity, or Li-Fi, as a complement to capacity-challenged Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Li-Fi uses light, which runs on a much higher frequency, instead of radio waves to transmit data. Li-Fi supporters contend that using the vast amounts of readily available free and unlicensed visible light could not only solve issues of limited and congested RF spectrum but also deliver much faster wireless speeds.

The solution developed by Fraunhofer IPMS uses light in the infrared range as the wireless transmission medium. The so-called optical wireless communication uses the internationally non-regulated spectrum of light with bandwidths of several Gigabits per second and--provided there are no blocks between sender and recipient--has the potential to transmit data up to 10 times faster than available wireless solutions, with minimal bit error rates (<10-9), according to a university press release.

To do this, researchers say, it only needs 15 percent of the energy per transmitted byte of user data. The driverless transceiver module combines an optical transceiver and protocol controller with a Gigabit Ethernet interface, so it can be integrated into common industrial systems.

Fraunhofer IPMS' first Li-Fi hotspot that serves as a prototype for optical wireless communication for distances of up to 10 meters will be presented for the first time at the Electronica event.

The researchers say the technology they developed can do much more than supplement or replace cable-bound transmission technologies. Thanks to a data rate of 1 Gigabit per second, it is also superior to conventional wireless technologies, such as WLAN and is therefore predestined for application areas where large data volumes must be transmitted virtually in real time.

Fraunhofer IPMS is offering a Customer Evaluation Kit so interested parties can test the benefits of the Li-Fi HotSpot in a variety of application fields.

Last year, a spinoff from Scotland's University of Edinburgh, pureVLC, shipped its first product and changed its name to pureLiFi. The startup demonstrated that Li-Fi does not require a line-of-sight connection between the transmitter and receiver and can instead operate by using incident light, which includes reflections. PureVLC said it achieved an industry first by demonstrating high-speed Li-Fi from a reflection, streaming four videos in parallel.

The company's co-founder and chief scientific officer, Harald Haas, first demonstrated Li-Fi technology to the world live on stage at TED Global in July 2011. 

For more:
- see this InAVate article
- see the press release

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