Jon Excell, writing in The Engineer, says that LiFi, an emerging wireless technology that enables users to send and receive data in beams of LED light, will help overcome the limitations of radio frequency communications.
In today’s connected world, wireless data has become a critical utility: an invisible element of our modern infrastructure that increasingly underpins many of the services upon which we rely.
And as we deploy connected devices in ever-greater numbers, and embrace emerging technologies such as autonomous systems, the internet of things and virtual reality (VR), the demand for wireless connectivity is expected to increase exponentially.
But there’s a problem. The radio spectrum upon which much of our connectivity depends is getting crowded and some fear that our insatiable appetite for data will ultimately lead to a ‘spectrum crunch’ that will soon crash our communications networks, rendering many of our fancy new technologies useless.
Against this backdrop, unlocking new levels of data and bandwidth is a priority, and one area of technology that looks set to play a major role in addressing this challenge is Li-Fi, an emerging wireless optical networking technology that enables data to be transmitted over short distances via the rapid and, to the human eye, imperceptible modulation of LED light bulbs.
Pioneered almost a decade ago by Edinburgh University’s Prof Harald Haas, the technology has some compelling advantages. For a start, the data spectrum for visible light is 1,000 times greater than the RF spectrum so there’s more capacity to drive bigger bandwidths and higher data rates. Li-Fi developers have already demonstrated speeds of 224Gbps in laboratory conditions and expect 1Gbps or above – around 100 times faster than conventional Wi-Fi – to become the norm.
What’s more, because data can be contained within a tight area of illumination, there’s little risk of interference and it’s also highly secure: while radio waves penetrate through walls and can be intercepted, a beam of light is confined.
Haas first caught the headlines with the technology following a 2011 TED talk in which he demonstrated how a standard LED lamp could be used to transmit high-resolution video directly to a receiver placed just beneath the bulb.
In the years following this jaw-dropping illustration of the technology in action, Li-Fi has begun making waves beyond the academic research space, with a number of organisations already commercialising the technology, and a growing number of companies supporting research into what is increasingly being viewed as a key emerging sector.
So, watch this space, if you’ll pardon the pun, for more detail and data!
In a follow up to the mention I made in the HAMNET Bulletin of 1st of September, about the dangerous lung disease occurring in persons using Vape Devices, the website univadis.co.za has noted that the FDA has issued a warning against purchase of all illegal (street) vaping products and urges consumers to refrain from using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil or modifying/adding substances to purchased products.
New York State (NYS) public health officials have announced that laboratory testing links recent vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses to high levels of vitamin E acetate in cannabis-containing products.
The FDA also states that although there are not enough data to unequivocally implicate vitamin E acetate, it believes that prudence and avoidance of inhaling THC are warranted.
A second, and possibly third, death has been reported and linked to the use of unregulated substances in the vape devices.
So please heed these warnings, if you use such devices. I hope you don’t!
Spaceweather.com reports that another interstellar visitor appears to be passing through the solar system–and this time it’s definitely a comet. Ukrainian amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov discovered the object, now named C/2019 Q4 (Borisov), approaching from beyond the orbit of Mars on Aug. 30th.
Based on observations gathered since Borisov discovered the distant fuzzball, the comet seems to be following a hyperbolic orbit with an eccentricity greater than 3.5. This means the comet is unbound to the sun. Indeed, it is moving some 30.7 km/s (68,700 mph) too fast for the sun’s gravity to hang onto it. Comet Borisov is a first time visitor to the inner solar system, and after this flyby it will return to deep space.
Comet Borisov will make its closest approach to the sun (2 AU) around Dec. 7th. Three weeks later, near the end of December, it will make its closest approach to Earth (also 2 AU). At the moment the comet is very dim, around magnitude +18. How bright it may become by December is anyone’s guess.
The first known interstellar object to visit our solar system, ‘Oumuamua, caused a sensation when it was discovered racing away from the sun in late 2017. Speculation about its nature ranged from an alien spacecraft to a fossil exocomet. Astronomers still aren’t sure what it was. Comet Borisov, on the other hand, appears to have a fuzzy atmosphere (a “coma”) and perhaps a stubby tail — signs that it really is a comet.
Because Comet Borisov is still just entering the solar system, astronomers will have plenty of time to study it in the months ahead.
UK investigators have revealed that reluctance to use a cockpit cup-holder resulted in coffee being spilled over control panels on an Airbus A330, causing substantial radio communications problems and forcing a diversion.
The A330-200 had been operating from Frankfurt to Cancun on 6 February this year.
It had commenced the transatlantic crossing when the cockpit crew was served coffee in cups without lids. While Airbus recommends using the cup-holder, the size of cups used by the carrier on the route made lifting them from the holder difficult.
The crew naturally tended to place cups on the fold-out table in front of them – making them “vulnerable” to being knocked over.
The coffee on the A330 captain’s table was spilled, with a small amount falling on the left-hand audio control panel, which immediately malfunctioned and subsequently failed. Some 20min later the first officer’s corresponding control panel also became hot and failed – although the precise reason for this was not clear.
VHF radio transmissions and public-address announcements were affected by the malfunctions and the captain chose to divert to Shannon, with the precautionary use of cockpit oxygen masks owing to electrical smoke emanating from the panel.
None of the 326 passengers and 11 crew members on board the jet was injured.
But the carrier subsequently changed its procedures to ensure cup lids were provided on all routes, says the inquiry, and has sought to obtain “appropriately-sized” cups for cockpit cup-holders.
Thanks to FlightGlobal for this shortened report.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR cautiously moving his cup of coffee away from the face of his VHF/UHF dualbander, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.