My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: EPSRC and University of Strathclyde researches FLORA based Li-Fi for developement in the next four years

Friday, June 21, 2013

EPSRC and University of Strathclyde researches FLORA based Li-Fi for developement in the next four years

“Imagine an LED array beside a motorway helping to light the road, displaying the latest traffic updates and transmitting internet information wirelessly to passengers' laptops, netbooks and smartphones. This is the kind of extraordinary, energy-saving parallelism that we believe our pioneering technology could deliver.”

Research Team leader, Professor Martin Dawson of the University of Strathclyde

The Proverbial “Last Mile” in Telecoms may end up being Optical. But not Fiber Optic Cables to the house, the process of implementation still being prohibitively high due to the CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) involved in the initial outlay.

Rather I’m referring to an emerging technology which I like to dub FLORA (Fiberless Optical Receiver Array), an area of Research into which UWI may have an interest as stated in my blog article entitled “UWI's Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences is now Science and Technology as SPIE funds Optics Research - Welcome to the Punch at a multi-billion dollar Optics Revolution”.

This is currently being researched by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), a British think tank of Universities that’s exploring the FLORA or Li-Fi over the next four (4) years it as a future ultrafast short range Communication standard that uses visible light as stated in article “Multi-tasking micro-lights could spark a Communications revolution”, published January 25, 2013, Physorg.

The use of Micro LED (Light Emitting Diodes) instead larger 2 mm Diode Arrays holds the potential for not only ultrafast direct Optical LOS (Line of Sight) solution for the Last Mile, but also as a replacement for Bluetooth and other short range Communication standards. This so-called Li-Fi being researched by EPSRC has several advantages over other research being done and may in fact be closer to practical application:

1.      Use of Visible Light Spectrum for Communication to ease congestion in the Microwave Band
2.      Satiate the demand for VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) Bands for Broadband by using Optical Spectrum with its higher bandwidths
3.      Spectrum license free, as it would be difficult to license Visible Light, the same Visible Light Spectrum used by Human eyes
4.      Denser packing of the LED with a thousand (1000) occupying the same space as a single 2mm sized LED, akin to the packing of LED used in LCD TV’s
5.      Faster switching rates also in the order of a thousand (1000) times that of a 2 mm LED, thus enable separate channelized Communications using different light Spectrum

These LI-Fi or FLORA Arrays could be placed in the same location as LED lighting. Flickering so fast as to imperceptible is nothing more than another LED Light Bulb. Thus they’d serve a triumvirate of uses:

1.      Lighting
2.      Communications
3.      Advertising

This as the LI-Fi array can either be incorporated into regular LED lighting or arrange in the form of a advertisement billboard, making them blend into the background while supplying your devices i.e. smartphones, Tablets, etc with Internet Access. Such Li-Fi Arrays have huge potential as LED lighting proliferates globally as we are now moving away from Incandescent Bulbs and Mercury Vapor Flourescent Bulbs.

Here in Jamaica, the development of this Communications Technology could be a benefit to us in the next four years as by then our replacement of Streetlights with LED versions by the Ministry of Local Government should be complete as noted in my blog article entitled “Green Energy RG installing 5000 Solar Powered LED Streetlights in Jamaica - Local Government's the Gangster Squad West of Memphis towards a more Energy Efficient GOJ”.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining is moving towards the re-introduction of the Cuban Light Bulb Project now rebranded the Cuba-Jamaica Compact Fluorescent Lamp Project since March 2013 as stated in my blog article entitled “Minister Paulwell revives Cuban Light Bulb Program - How to Ban Incandescent Bulbs and focus on production of LED Bulbs in Jamaica”.

The next Big Telecommunications Standard from IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) the maker of Wi-Fi in the next four (4), may be in the development of this Optical Standard. Thus aside from the re-use of Spectrum in the VHF and UHF bands as currently the case with stalled 700MHz Auction as noted in my blog article entitled “No bidders thus far for the 700MHz Spectrum Auction for 4G LTE - CAPEX concerns as Serious Man of Steel Investors are needed to assist Jamaica to become a more Connected Society”.

The Ministry of Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining also needs to look into the licensing of Visible Light Spectrum along with the provisioning of licenses for the development of other forms of Wired and Wireless Broadband in Jamaica such as:

1.      Powerline Broadband
2.      Satellite Broadband

Thus this development in FLORA based Li-Fi by the EPSRC led by Research Team leader, Professor Martin Dawson of the University of Strathclyde is guaranteed to bear fruit in the next four years as it consolidates so many Systems by the introduction of higher Bandwidth Visible Light Communication. This is truly Selena Gomez’s Come and Get It FLORA Li-Fi for Last Mile Internet to be Downloaded (2013).

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