Japanese electronics firm releases first Li-Fi products
TOKYO, May 1 — A Japanese electronics firm has created the first devices that use a fast and cheap optical version of Wi-Fi communications, releasing a new application that instantly and automatically sends a photo taken on a smartphone to the people in the image.
The visible light communication technology was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January but has never before been applied to a product.
Casio Computer Co. released the PicapiCamera in Japan on Thursday in Tokyo and is initially making it available in the United States, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The application enables people being photographed to digitally add a sticker or message to a photo being taken on their friend’s smartphone and then instantly receive a copy of the photo on their own phone.
The iPhone version of the application is available free of charge from Apple Inc.’s App Store at http://itunes.apple.com/app/picapicamera/id515236682?mt=8.
And while the application is an interesting addition to all those that are already available, it is the technology behind it that is attracting attention as a potential new form of transmitting data.
Digital signals are transmitted by varying the intensity of the light given off by the screens of the devices.
The flickering is so minimal that it cannot be noticed by the human eye, but the camera receiving the data can detect it over a distance of as much as 10m.
The technology is in the vanguard of a rapid and cheap wireless communication system that has been labeled Li-Fi.
Late last year, a number of international companies set up the Li-Fi Consortium to promote high-speed optical wireless systems. This is needed, they believe, because of growing fears over capacity for existing systems.
The growth of radio-based wireless means an increasing number of devices are able to connect to the Internet, either through the mobile-phone network or via Wi-Fi — although the amount of radio spectrum available for this data is limited.
By using light to transmit data, the companies are aiming to exploit a different part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Research to date has been positive and speeds of 130 megabits per second have already been achieved over short distances. The Li-Fi Consortium believes that a speed of 10 gigabits per second is achievable, meaning a high-definition film could be downloaded in less than a minute. — AFP-Relaxnews