Optical Wireless Communication

Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems

Optical wireless data transmission between mobile device and PC/laptop.

The ability to use light in the visible or infrared range as a wireless transmission medium forms an alternative to established cable-bound solutions such as USB, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI or Thunderbolt. Optical wireless communication uses bandwidths of several Gigabit per second, and has the potential of transmitting data more than hundred times faster than available wireless solutions, and with minimal bit error rates (10-9 per second).

Fraunhofer IPMS has been developing communication components, prototypes, and reference designs in the area of optical wireless communication for several years. It provides standardized and proprietary solutions for infrared and visible light communication (VLC) as well as Li-Fi. These can be used in a variety of usage scenarios from very short range to mid-range and from some kilobit per second to multi-gigabit per second speed. The R&D spectrum comprises simulations, optics, discrete and integrated electronics as well as software design for future wireless docking, beaming, HotSpot and broadcasting applications. Fraunhofer IPMS is a member of the Infrared Data Association (IrDA®) as well as head of 10 Giga-IR special interest group. In addition, Fraunhofer IPMS is a founding member of the Li-Fi consortium – a non-profit interest group for optical wireless communication technologies and solutions.

Current Research Topics

Plugless Docking Station

The driver-less sending/receiving module combines an optical transceiver and a protocol controller with a high-speed USB interface (USB 3.1). Now users can use a GigaIR adapter to connect all USB-ready devices without additional apps or drivers, and can exchange data wirelessly at high speeds. In addition, the GigaIR adapter also contains a module for wireless energy transmissions.


Wireless Data Links

Customer-specific solutions allow for the adapted integration of efficient wireless data links in various systems. Fraunhofer IPMS develops adapted optical wireless communication modules. They support data rates of a few kilobit per second up to several Gigabit per second at short to medium ranges of coverage. This means that virtually any cable-bound interface can now be replaced with a robust optical-wireless data link.

Solutions for wireless infrared and visible light communication, Li-Fi and VLC

Hardware

  • Data rates: 9.6kbps – 10Gbps, half/full duplex
  • Range: up to 30m
  • Application-specific transceiver
  • PHY, Framer solutions (FPGA and silicon proven)
  • IrDA Controllers (SIR, MIR, FIR, VFIR, UFIR, Giga-IR)

Software

  • Software stacks for 8-, 16-, 32-bit processors (8051, MSP430, ARM, XScale, …)
  • Device driver development

Systems

  • Cable replacement for e.g. USB, HDMI, Ethernet
  • Evaluation Kits for GigaIR and several wired interfaces

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