LESA Develops High-Speed VLC Link with Integrated Microchip Receiver

The Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA), an Engineering Research Center headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), recently claimed to have achieved the world’s first high-speed visible‐light transmission link with a fully integrated microchip receiver. According to the LESA ERC, the low‐cost, compact, integrated microchip receiver that its researchers developed will lead to more advanced visible light communication (VLC) technology for applications including occupancy tracking, imaging, indoor GPS, self‐alignment, and the hand‐over needed for mobile wireless scenarios.

The LESA ERC did not give any specifics of their development. It is not clear what they consider high-speed or what the difference is between their microchip receiver and the LiFi-Dongle that the company PureLiFi has already brought to the market.

Notably, VLC could potentially enable lighting infrastructure to provide cost-effective, high‐bandwidth, wireless, lighting-based communications. Once LEDs replace conventional lighting, VLC can be employed in a wide variety of commercial, residential, and industrial applications.

Future 5G communications platforms may one day employ VLC in conjunction with RF wireless technologies. VLC also opens the path to new outdoor applications such as building‐to‐building, streetlight-to‐streetlight, and vehicle‐to‐vehicle communication
where current wifi networking can suffer from interference issues.

The LESA ERC researchers point out that higher frequency radio‐frequency platforms (60 GHz and mm wave) have characteristics very similar to light‐based communications such as requiring line of sight, and the limited ability to penetrate certain materials. According to the researchers, such characteristics make VLC-based platforms a potential avenue for advanced high-bandwidth wireless communications.

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