The wireless network is based on harmless infrared rays
Scientists have developed a new wireless Internet based on infrared rays that is reportedly 100 times faster than existing Wi-Fi networks.
The wireless network developed by researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands not only has a huge capacity — more than 40 Gigabits per second (Gbit/s) — but does away with the need to share Wi-Fi as every device gets its own ray of light.
The wireless data comes from a few central ‘light antennas’, which can be mounted on the ceiling, that are able to precisely direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fibre.
The antennas contain a pair of gratings that radiate light rays of different wavelengths at different angles (‘passive diffraction gratings’).
Changing the light wavelengths also changes the direction of the ray of light. A safe infrared wavelength is used that does not reach the retina in the eye.
If a user is walking about and a smartphone or tablet moves out of the light antenna’s direction, then another light antenna takes over, researchers said.
Tracks precise location
The network tracks the precise location of every wireless device using its radio signal transmitted in the return direction, they said.
Different devices are assigned different wavelengths by the same light antenna and so do not have to share capacity.
Current Wi-Fi uses radio signals with a frequency of 2.5 or five gigahertz. The new system uses infrared light with wavelengths of 1,500 nanometres and higher. Researchers managed to achieve a speed of 42.8 Gbit/s over a distance of 2.5 metres. The team said that even with the best Wi-Fi systems currenly available, users would not get more than 300 Megabit/s in total, which is some hundred times less than the speed per ray of light achieved by the new system.
The system has so far used the light rays only to download; uploads are still done using radio signals since in most applications much less capacity is needed for uploading.