Friday, August 26, 2011

A network of lightbulbs?

It seems that lightbulbs might power the next generation of computer networks. The Daily Mail reports:

Professor Hass, of the school of engineering at Edinburgh University in the UK, said that currently we use radio waves to transmit data which are inefficient.

With mobile phones there are 1.4 million base stations boosting the signal but most of the energy is used to cool it, making it only five per cent efficient.

By comparison there are 40 billion light bulbs in use across the world which are far more efficient.

By replacing old fashioned incandescent models with LED bulbs he claimed he could turn them all into Internet transmitters.

The invention, dubbed D-Light, can send data faster than 10 megabits per second, which is the speed of a typical broadband connection, by altering the frequency of the ambient light in the room.

It has new applications in hospitals, airplanes, military, and even underwater. Aeroplane passengers could in theory be able to surf the Internet from signals beamed out of the lights on board.

There's more at the link. Here's Professor Hass speaking at the recent TEDGlobal conference about his idea.

I wonder how it affects the network if a lightbulb burns out? Instead of the infamous 'blue screen of death', would one get the 'blackout of despair'?



Stan said...

I wonder if the frequency changes are enough to trigger a seizure in say an epileptic or otherwise give people headaches.

Dave H said...

Stan: To transmit 10 Mbps you'd never see it. Fluorescent lights actually flicker 120 times per second and they don't seem to cause anybody any harm.