NASA at the Kennedy Space Center has agreed to collaborate with Light Visually Transceiving (LVX) System Corp. in developing visible light communication, or VLC, a wireless communication technology using LEDs referred to as Li-Fi.
On July 30, 2015, Kennedy director Bob Cabana signed a Space Act agreement with LVX board chairman and CEO John Pederson. The agreement licenses researchers at Kennedy to study and develop new applications for visual light communication. Space Act Agreements empower NASA to work with organizations that help fulfill the agency’s mandate. The VLC technology development effort, coordinated by Center Planning and Development, continues Kennedy Space Center’s transition to a diverse, multi-user spaceport. Under the terms of the LVX System will now be headquartered at Kennedy Space Center.
Among the applications for the technology, NASA envisions VLC’s use on future deep-space missions and expects other innovations that have the potential to benefit daily life. The five-year agreement between NASA and LVX, Kennedy will perform reimbursable services in research and technology development of VLC and lighting system augmentation. At the conclusion of the agreement, NASA plans to provide a final prototype consisting of a camera, microphone and speaker technologies.
Also, NASA and LVX are studying potential enhancements to lighting systems that may improve routing systems for Global Positioning Satellites.
Pederson has been collaborating with lighting specialist Eirik Holbert of Kennedy’s Flight Technology Branch and other engineers and scientists in the space center’s Swamp Works Laboratory. Together, they intend to revolutionize the technology of visible light communication from fixtures for ground and potential space-based applications.
Kennedy’s Swamp Works leverages partnerships across NASA, industry and academia to establishes rapid, innovative and cost-effective exploration mission solutions. NASA says that with Kennedy’s Swamp Works, concepts start on a small scale and build up fast, through a lean development processes with a hands-on approach.
NASA points out that Li-Fi can be used as standalone communication technology, or it can supplement radio-frequency or cellular networks. One of the primary advantages of VLC over radio-frequency bandwidth limitations, according to NASA, is that the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger. NASA contends that a VLC network provides a wireless or “fiberless” light photon medium with significantly reduced security risks and virtually unlimited data transfer. An additional advantage of VLC, according to NASA, is that it can operate with reduced energy requirements, making it a “green” technology