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By: MarkJ - 2 August, 2011 (11:31 AM)
LED Light Emitting DiodeGerman scientists working at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications (Heinrich Hertz Institute) in Berlin have succeeded in developing an 800Mbps (Megabits per second) capable wireless network (WLAN - Wireless Local Area Network) by using nothing more than normal red, blue, green and white LED (Light-Emitting Diode) light bulbs.

It apparently only takes "a few additional components" to turn regular LEDs, which these days can be found in everything from Torches to Christmas tree lights, into an affordable ultrafast wireless network.

The LEDs, which are placed on the ceiling and have a coverage of about 10 square meters, essentially blink on and off extremely fast to transmit the data. This signal can then be picked up by a receiver, which is typically placed anywhere within the coverage radius.

Dr. Anagnostis Paraskevopoulos explained:

"The fundamentals of visible light communication (VLC) were developed together with the industry partners Siemens and France Telecom Orange Labs. [It] means that we [can transfer] four videos in HD quality to four different laptops at the same time.

For VLC the sources of light – in this case, white-light LEDs – provide lighting for the room at the same time they transfer information. With the aid of a special component, the modulator, we turn the LEDs off and on in very rapid succession and transfer the information as ones and zeros. The modulation of the light is imperceptible to the human eye.

A simple photo diode on the laptop acts as a receiver. The diode catches the light, electronics decode the information and translate it into electrical impulses, meaning the language of the computer."

The technology could prove to be invaluable in locations where traditional wireless networks cannot function or are prevented from use, such as in Hospitals or on Aircraft. However it's by no means perfect.

Sadly visible light like this cannot penetrate through walls and is easily blocked (e.g. somebody walking in front of the LED source). As a result the scientists admit that such a solution would be unlikely to replace your home wireless network anytime soon, although you can never say for sure.

At present the 800Mbps figure is known to be a world record for VLC technology and was developed as part of the EU's wider OMEGA Home Gigabit Access project to improve home networking performance.
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