According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, the demand for mobile communications is increasing at over 50% per year.
Wireless communications have evolved incessantly corresponding to the needs and interests of today’s generation, but the available radio frequency spectrum is not enough to cater to the growing demand for wireless data. The spectrum crunch puts constraints on the increasing demand for global connectivity and high capacity leading to a data communication gap.
What is Spectrum Crunch?
Spectrum crunch refers to the potential lack of sufficient wireless frequency spectrum needed to support a growing number of consumer devices. It is a risk in telecommunications and wireless networking with profound implications for the immediate future.
What is Light Communication?
High demand for such kind of reliable communication networks with better speed has led to the birth of light communications which is unlocking the unparalleled data and bandwidth.
LC devices are promising to make use of untapped spectrum of light — both visible and invisible, for communication. Both the visible light spectrum and the infrared spectrum are globally unlicensed.
Anywhere solid-state lights (e.g. LED lights) are installed to provide illumination, there can also be high-speed wireless data communications.
Benefits of Light Communication
Talking about the benefits of implementing LC, following are some of the many advantages:
i) Unlicensed Free Spectrum
Both the visible light spectrum and the infrared spectrum are globally unlicensed which can be utilised to communicate freely with low power consumption and the cost-effective deployment of the connectivity infrastructure.
ii) Safe & Secure Communications
Since light does not pass through opaque materials, it can offer a secure communications channel avoiding the leakage of any confidential information.
iii) Works well in RF-restricted environments
LC provides wireless data connectivity in environments such as petrochemical plants, hospitals, manufacturing plants, nuclear power generating stations, underground mines, underwater etc, where the use of RF is not wanted, not secure or actually impossible. Isn’t it great?
There are multiple technologies and concepts that use light for communications. For instance, the Infrared (IR) communications between a remote control and a television can be considered as light communications with very low data rate.
Technologies using the light spectrum for wireless communications are known as Optical Wireless Communications (OWC), broadly classified into three different categories:
Free-Space Optics (FSO)
FSO is a technology that, via light dissemination in free space, wirelessly transmits data. By ‘Free space’ I mean — air, outer space, vacuum, or a similar medium. A clear contradistinction of FSO would be the optical fibre cables which are tangible and solid in nature. To sum up FSO, it is a line-of-sight technology which uses the invisible light to provide optical bandwidth connections.
This technology would be apt for Indoor/Semi Outdoor settings, enterprise-level offices & industrial environments for short and long reach communication.
2. Optical Camera Communications (OCC)
OCC is made for smart devices and its primary function is directly related to the device’s camera. It uses the visible and near-infrared spectrum for one-directional communications at very low data rates in a broadcast manner. OCC could be used to provide accurate indoor positioning and limited amounts of information similar to how the Global Positioning System (GPS) is used to offer positioning in outdoor scenarios.
OCC could be combined with RF technologies to provide location-based services. These systems have already been tested and effectively deployed at retail chains, shopping centres and large office venues to offer operational improvements.
3. Light Fidelity (Li-Fi)
Li-Fi is the revolutionary technology which enables transmission of data through light. Li-Fi can be defined as a fully networked optical wireless technology that leverages the spectrum of light instead of radio waves to exchange data. With Li-Fi, the possibilities are endless and the opportunities tremendous. The applications of Li-Fi ranges from using it at home or an office environment to streaming high-quality content during flights.
Spectrum of light, being 1000 times wider than the Radio Frequency can achieve significantly faster speed than Wi-Fi. The fact that light cannot trespass through the physical environment makes Li-Fi a secure bearer of data.
The applications for Light Communication are limitless. Needless to say that the use of light is indispensable in worldwide wireless communication networks forming the backbone of the Internet. What do you think?
We hope the article could give you a quick tour of the world of light communication. We, at Velmenni, are reimagining the role lights plays in the universe. Know more about Optical Wireless Communication technology here.