High Bandwidth Lighting Systems for Data Communication

Project Goals

The goal of this project is to develop high data-rate (Mb/s) and high data-rate density (Mb/s/m2) visible light communications (VLC) provided through lighting sources that are designed in the context of the core center outcomes of increased productivity, safety, energy efficiency and health.

An integrated future system that achieves these goals consists of three major parts: (1) Data access points which double as fully functional next-generation luminaires that are bridged from VLC to wired networks and the internet. (2) Miniaturized mobile receiver nodes, sufficiently inexpensive and low power for integration into mobile phones or USB dongles, and are capable of an ‘uplink’ to the access points without harmful or uncomfortable emissions. (3) Protocols and algorithms that network these links, perform routing, ensure compatibility with other communications platforms, and implement higher level functionality for system control and location-based services. Parts (1) and (2) are core to this project. Part (3) is centered in the mobility and multiple access project, but is closely supported by this project. Proofs of concept demonstrations in this research are captured in the associated test bed.

The Project’s Role in Support of the Strategic Plan

The primary focus of this project is “Breaking the Wireless Traffic Jam,” which is central to the concept of smart lighting and smart rooms. For every point in a smart room illuminated by LEDs, we aim to provide high data-rate wireless communications. Compared to radio, VLC is fundamentally better suited to achieving very high data rate densities (Mb/s/m2) that will be required to satisfy the explosion in the numbers of portable computing and multimedia wireless devices. These growing demands are predictably overwhelming the allocated radio spectrum resources, resulting in severe localized congestion, or “wireless gridlock.” In contrast, visible light can be directed and sequestered, enabling multiple independent links to occupy nearby spaces, thus supporting much larger traffic density.