The inventor Harald Haas has announced at a recent TED conference his development of a radical new wireless technology destined to revolutionize the way digital data is transmitted. Using LED technology, every light bulb can now be a wireless transmitter.
Each of Haas’s new LED bulbs is composed of many different individual LEDs, each with a distinct frequency. These LEDs blink so rapidly that it is completely invisible to the human eye. In this way, the bulbs still serve their original purpose of providing consistent, comfortable lighting. However, these blinks act as a kind of Morse code, allowing simple receivers with a line of sight to interpret the pattern and relay the information to your computer, printer, telephone line or internet connection. And since each LED in the bulb has its own unique frequency of light, hundreds of data streams can be transmitted simultaneously. This means serious speed: the prototype exceeds most broadband connections and forthcoming models are expected to reach speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second!
If that isn’t enough, by eliminating the need for a vast number of cell phone towers and wireless routers this device has the potential to realize enormous gains in energy efficiency. And your neighbors will never be able to freeload on your internet again! Since intercepting the signal requires a line of sight, the system is far more secure. This is particularly important for many business, hospitals and government agencies where security is critical.
While fibre optic is still at the forefront of our minds as it is still being rolled out in many parts of the world the reality is that new technological breakthroughs may be just around the corner. This new development alone could revolutionize the efficiency of communications, improve data transfer speeds and revolutionize the internet as we know it.
However, the applications for this technology extend far beyond the home and office. The ability of the LED constructs to emit and receive signals could mean they can be applied to a myriad of different technologies. For example cars with headlights designed in this way would actually be able to communicate with each other in real time – potentially preventing accidents and saving lives buy transmitting data indicating speed, distance and adjusting the car accordingly.
All in all, this is truly a remarkable invention. In time, it is likely to expand the way we use wireless transmission and permanently change the way we think of it. It could be the next revolution in communications technology and it could happen a lot sooner than you might think.
Sam Jones, the author, thinks his sky broadband package is already pretty incredible but can’t wait to see what happens in the coming years with new technological advancements.