Monday, Jan 23, 2006
Dividends | Lighting up wireless Internet links
Pennsylvania State University researchers say they've figured out a way - in the lab, at least - to make home and office wireless Internet hook-ups faster, more reliable and more secure by using pulses of light.
But not from your trusty 60-watt incandescent bulb.
A Penn State team led by electrical engineering professor Mohsen Kavehrad released a paper this month saying white light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, wired to a broadband-over-powerline, or BPL, system can make accessing the Net as easy as 1-2-3.
Internet signals would come to one's house through the electrical system - a proven commercial technology. Then, light from overhead is modulated - pulsed in an encoded fashion - so that receivers in a laptop, PC or other device can translate the signal to Web pages, e-mail or chat sessions.
Because light can't go through walls, unlike the radio frequency signals used by Wi-Fi, the method is less susceptible to hackers, the researchers said.
Just don't look for the system at Circuit City any time soon: It will be several years before white LEDs are commonplace, and cable and DSL Internet service dominate the broadband market, whereas broadband-over-powerline has a mere sliver.-Akweli Parker