Infrared much better than Wi-Fi

A few special “light antennas” dotted around a room would provide significantly more bandwidth for internet-connected devices than traditional Wi-Fi, says a Dutch scientist. Wi-Fi’s days could be numbered if the technology works as suggested.

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With this new Wi-Fi replacement system that’s been proposed, benign, infrared rays of light emitted from ceiling-mounted transmitters would beam bandwidth-intensive streams of data at smartphones and laptops within the room. And each ray of light could provide 40 gigabits per second, says Joanne Oh, a Ph.D. researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in a news article on the university’s website.

Wi-Fi has traditionally been restricted in bandwidth due to the characteristics of frequencies used. The microwave spectrum at 2.4GHz and 5GHz isn’t particularly capacious compared to higher-up frequencies such as infrared. That chunk of spectrum, at 1,500 nanometers and higher in wavelength’s spectrum by a few hundred terahertz, is much roomier, the school explains.

Download rate of 42.8Gbit per second

Hence the proposed idea: Forget the traditional microwave Wi-Fi for downloads, and distribute the data via the fatter infrared pipes. Oh says she achieved 42.8Gbit per second over 2.5 meters. For comparison, fast, currently available Wi-Fi radios will deliver 1.3Gbit per second on one channel.

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