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Researchers use laser light to create a 1Gbps wireless network

The wireless networks that we use to connect to the internet nowadays use radio frequencies to communicate. Researchers from the National Taipei University of Technology have created a network that bypasses radio frequencies entirely and makes use of lasers to transfer data.

Although its setup and the science behind it are more complicated, here’s a basic idea of how it works. The model utilizes basic AAA battery-powered red and green laser pointers and some other components that are worth a mere US $600. The researchers pointed the laser pointers at photodiode receptors stationed about 30 feet away and strobed the lights on-and-off at a rate of 500 million times per second. With this, they were able to create a 500 Mbps data stream over each laser, thus adding up to 1Gbps in speed. That’s an incredible rate and way faster than our Wi-Fi routers can transfer data.

The bit error rate was only about one bad bit per billion, which is extremely lower than the one bad bit per 100,000 on most Wi-Fi streams. Also, since the technology makes use of light, it isn’t subject to over-the-airwaves interference. The downside though, is that it’s susceptible to interference from actual physical objects blocking the path, including fog and rain. It can also only travel where it’s pointed, unlike radio frequencies.

Because of these drawbacks, we doubt that this technology will replace radio-based data communication. It may become a feasible way to transfer data indoors, however, in places such as hospitals that can’t tolerate radio interference.
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