Press Release

Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems

Li-Fi HotSpot – Wireless communication in real time

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden has developed communication modules that can wirelessly transfer data at a speed of up to 1 Gigabit per second over a distance of up to 10 meters. The optical technology, which is especially designed for industrial customers and can already be tested as a compact Customer Evaluation Kit, is one of Fraunhofer IPMS’ highlights at this year’s Electronica - the world’s leading trade show for components, systems and applications in electronics - which is held in Munich from November 11-14, 2014.

High data rates, robustness, low energy consumption, data security and networking capability. The requirements for data exchange in the entire production and process automation segment, in which industrial equipment is becoming ever more complex and in which more and more sensors, machines and control units are communicating with each other, are enormous. The growth of these requirements has also resulted in increased demands to find substitutes for the prevailing wire-bound fieldbus systems. That is because, especially in the case of movable or moving equipment components, such as grapplers or lifting devices, wireless systems offer better reliability and security than expensive special cables or collector rings that are prone to wear and tear; they are also easier to install and offer more flexibility. In addition, they are always required when the installation of a signal cable from sensor or actuating elements to the control unit is either impossible or very cumbersome and the use of wireless solutions offers significant cost savings in terms of installation and maintenance. The wireless communication technology developed by the scientists at Fraunhofer IPMS can do much more than supplement or replace cable-bound transmission technologies. Thanks to a data rate of 1 Gigabit per second, it is also superior to conventional wireless technologies such as WLAN and is therefore predestined for all application areas in which large data volumes must be transmitted virtually in real time.

The solution developed by Fraunhofer IPMS uses light in the infrared range as the wireless transmission medium. The so-called optical wireless communication uses the internationally non-regulated spectrum of light with bandwidths of several Gigabits per second and - provided there are no blocks between sender and recipient - has the potential to transmit data up to ten times faster than available wireless solutions, with minimal bit error rates (<10-9). To do this, it only needs 15 percent of the energy per transmitted byte of user data. The first Li-Fi HotSpot that serves as a prototype for optical wireless communication for distances of up to 10 meters will be presented to a trade audience for the first time at Electronica in Munich from November 11-14, 2014. The driverless transceiver module combines an optical transceiver and protocol controller with a Giagbit Ethernet interface. Therefore it can be easily integrated into common industrial systems. Fraunhofer IPMS offers its customers a Customer Evaluation Kit so they can test the benefits of the Li-Fi HotSpot in a variety of application fields. Visitors to Electronica 2014 can find the presentation by Fraunhofer IPMS at the joint stand of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft – Stand 113 – in Hall A4.

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