Optical Communications Without The Fiber

from the see-through-data dept

A group of mostly Japanese manufacturers called the Visible Light Communications Consortium is developing LEDs for wireless communications so that data is transmitted in a similar way to fiber optics — but without the fiber. Oddly, the consortium is trying to promote this means of communication without any solid plans for a standard — which sounds like a recipe for another wireless protocol that will be constantly held up by a variety of manufacturers fighting to peddle their own proprietary version while standardized (and sometimes inferior) protocols become more widespread. Though ‘optics-without-the-fiber’ may have its own problems trying to get off the ground, since obviously the light needs a line of sight to work (though reflections are one workaround), and the light can be easily blocked by opaque materials. But interestingly, blocking the light is being spun as a security feature, where you can prevent unwanted eavesdropping by simply containing the light, but it’s probably more of a drawback since it fundamentally limits the practical distances the light can travel reliably. Still, with so many new wireless standards coming to market that don’t have line of sight issues, this one may end up resting off to the side for a while.

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