CEA-Leti and LUCIOM, which develops visible-light communication using light-emitting diodes (LEDs), have launched a project to develop high-data-rate LiFi transceivers. With this technology, LUCIOM expects to offer in mid-2015 one of the first high-data-rate bidirectional light-fidelity, or LiFi, products that can work with different LED lighting sources, and on mobile devices.
Visible light communications (VLC) has gained significant momentum in recent years, primarily because of expectations that LEDs will become predominant in the lighting market. As LiFi benefits from this rapid market penetration of LED lighting sources and their reduced cost, it will become more efficient and economical compared to wireless RF communications.
Moreover, because LEDs can be modulated at very high frequencies and their oscillations are invisible to humans, they permit information transmission at very high data rates.
Earlier this year, Leti demonstrated a new prototype for wireless high-data-rate Li-Fi transmission. The technology employs the high-frequency modulation capabilities of LED engines used in commercial lighting. It achieves throughputs of up to 10Mb/s at a range of three meters, suitable for HD video streaming or Internet browsing, using light power of less than 1,000 lumens and with direct or even indirect lighting. This technology will be adapted to meet the needs of LUCIOM’s transceivers.
LUCIOM’s technology allows the convergence of light-emitting diodes with the worldwide proliferation of mobile devices to make any LED lighting source a high-speed data transmitter that is both secure and environmentally friendly.
Based on integrated circuits and transceivers, the technology turns LED light sources into positioning beacons, which transmit signals. This allows smartphones and tablets to become LiFi enabled, thanks to a receiver that is implemented in a 3.5mm audio jack dongle. The compact size of the receiver eases the integration in the device. In addition, the audio remains accessible from the audio interface, even when the LiFi application is launched from a smartphone.
LUCIOM’s technology can be combined with the use of gyro-sensors present in smartphones and tablets to predict movement between two beacons and provide a very accurate position to the user. This way, communication between phones and smart indoor LED lighting can be used inside buildings when GPS technology is no longer effective. The localization application can also be used to provide additional personalized services or information to customers as well as information to the infrastructure manager.
In addition to these indoor-positioning applications, the company is targeting high-data-rate video transfer.The project between Leti and LUCIOM builds on their previous collaboration in which Leti developed an optical over-the-air data link for the company that allows the transmission of true HD video from a lamp to a handheld receiver.
“Our indoor geo-localization could guide shoppers through the maze of large shopping malls to the stores they are seeking, and LED lighting in museums could be used to guide visitors through an enriched tour of the displays and exhibits,” said Michel Germe, CEO of LUCIOM. “Working again with Leti, we will be able to bring new, bidirectional transceivers that enable these applications to market in 2015.”
“LUCIOM was one of the first companies to see that LEDs and LiFi can offer a powerful, secure and highly energy-efficient communications alternative to WiFi,” said Leti CEO Laurent Malier. “With Leti’s first proof of concept developed earlier this year and its expertise in RF communications, we expect data-transmission rates in excess of 100Mb/s with traditional lighting based on LED lamps.”