Fraunhofer Experiments with LED Broadband Possibilities

Here is an example of what is sure to make you think differently about broadband connections: an emerging field of LED broadband aims to turn light bulbs into data transmitters by manipulating the rate at which they flicker. German company Fraunhofer is researching these types of optical communications technologies and has discovered a lighting system that delivers up to 3 Gbps.

“Fraunhofer’s Heinrich Hertz Institute said it has developed components in the lab that will allow off-the-shelf LED lights to transmit data at a rate of 1 Gbps on a single frequency. Since most commercial LEDs support three frequencies (or colors) of visible light, that gives the system a total capacity of 3 Gbps,” explains GigaOM.

How is this done? Fraunhofer expanded “the size of each frequency transmission band from 30 MHz to 180 MHz. Basically, Fraunhofer has developed a bigger light pipe into which it can cram more data,” notes the article. “The transmission is one-way of course — unless your PC or smartphone is equipped with its own LED — but the technology could be used as a high-powered supplemental downlink, say, for streaming video. And being that they’re light, the beams are also visible and can be highly focused.”

LED lighting prices are falling but still quite high — still out of the reach of the mass market. “LED manufacturers are trying to make their lighting systems smarter to boost their value. Connecting our light bulbs to the Internet of things is one way to make them more valuable. Another way is to make a ceiling lamp that could function as high-speed broadband link as well as pleasant illumination source,” writes GigaOM.