Feeds

WTF is... Li-Fi?

Optical data transfer's new leading light?

Business security measures using SSL

Practical applications

PureVLC isn't the only company working on this. In January, Casio demonstrated its take on the tech: flashing one smartphone screen - a flicker, again, imperceptible to humans - to send photo and message data to a second handset. Again, it was a relatively low-speed trial, but one made using everyday hardware.

Casio's VLC iPhone app

Social communications: Casio's VLC app, Picapicamera

Casio has been working on this for some years now, as have other Japanese technology firms. A group of them formed the Visible Light Communications Consortium in 2004. But there, as here, there seems little to show for the years of experimentation.

Toshiba, for example, has a pair of maritime binoculars that can pick up a signal beamed from Japan's lighthouses at up to 2km, beyond the range of Wi-Fi. The signal tells the viewer about sailing conditions in the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse. Again, it's not a fast transfer: just 1.2Kbps. Enough for a short burst of compressed data, but not much more.

Then there's Reset. It has produced a diving mask that transmits the wearer's voice as a series of light pulses. A detector converts the light back to an audio output. This enables underwater conversations at distances of up to 30m. The catch: each mask costs ¥150,000 (£1200) and you need two to make it worth wearing one.

In the West, we have the Li-Fi Consortium. One of its first tasks: the slightly embarrassing point that "LiFi" is a trademark owned by someone else, in this case US company Luxim, which makes plasma light sources.

Wireless alternative

Casio's app is now available from the iTunes App Store. The software, Picapicamera, is designed to exchange snaps adorned with cartoons and text, but Casio says it's also ready to receive signals from digital billboards and domestic LED-backlit TVs - a key application for VLC, Casio reckons. It imagines phone owners grabbing discount vouchers, the location of the nearest stockist and such simply by pointing cameras at light sources, much as a few already do with QR codes.

But there's the rub: there are already many technologies that deliver small bursts of data for those willing to accept it. And while the lightbulb may be ubiquitous, so too are wireless networks - and these are generally turned on 24-7, not something you can always say for lights.

That doesn't mean the two are not complementary, and the ever-busy radio spectrum means some users may seek less crowded alternatives. Canny Wi-Fi users are already shifting into the relatively empty 5GHz band, but the arrival of faster version of Wi-Fi, such as 802.11ac, will steer more new users into that band, and that may persuade some folk to take a fresh look at light. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.