Oledcomm is a Parisian start-up which has spent the last two years working with ‘li-fi’, or ‘light fidelity’: the transfer of data transfer through light.
Director Cedric Mayer has helped pioneer the use of li-Fi receivers to read data, translate it and finally transform it. Whilst the company has been experimenting with turning code into music, there is also the option of sending video files. CCTV images can be directly transmitted from the camera straight on to a screen, via a light beam. It may well appear like magic at first glance, but as Mayer explains, it is really just a case of speeding up the code:
“We turn off and turn on the LED light to a very high frequency. When it is off, it’s zero, when turned on, it’s one. Therefore, you are sending zeros and ones at an extremely fast rate. It can reach speeds of up to 3 gigabytes per second, an ‘academic’ record.”
Already 150 times the speed of a wi-fi connection, the next step is the internet. Even using a basic modem connected to a LED bulb is enough to send information to the computer via a light sensor. This new technology does not emit electromagnetic waves, so unlike the wi-fi, it would be possible to access the web in the air or in hospitals, and with considerably less risk.
But if there are clear benefits to using li-fi, there are also some issues to overcome, as detailed by Jean-Yves Le Boudec, Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland:
“For systems that communicate, like your smart-phone for example, the bulb needs to be precisely positioned in order to receive the light beam from the bulb. This is probably the one fatal constraint when using li-fi for mobile systems.”
Today, several different German, Japanese, and American companies are all working to develop a web application. In Paris, they are confident they will have a marketable product by 2014, and for no more than 80 Euros.