Can We Transfer Data Through Light?

The arrival of the Internet has given infinite possibilities for the transmission of data. So much so that a research team has developed a new communication system using LEDs. How they did it?

Transfer Data Through Light

On October 22, 1879, Thomas Alva Edison was successful in lighting an incandescent light bulb through the use of electricity. In this way, he became the “official” inventor of electric light despite having based his project on more than twenty experiments carried out by other scientists.

More than a century has passed since that milestone in the world of technology, but what few knew was what light would be able to do in the 21st century, such as communication by LEDs.

At a speed of 2.2 Mb / s

This project has been carried out by a group of researchers, who have ensured the development of the world’s fastest visible light information transfer system: at 2.2 Mb / s.

VLCs, derived from the term ‘Visible Light Communication’, is transmitting media that need light to function. This advance can be of great help for the development of other projects related to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Many will ask why this high speed is due and the answer lies in the use of a type of organic light-emitting diodes. To be exact, they used emitters with OLED technology that had a wide spectral range.

What is LED communication?

Communication through light (VLC) is a form of optical transmission that consists of transmitting frequencies ranging from 400 to 800 THz, called the visible spectrum.

The purpose of this system is to send information through lighting. Years ago, the first steps were with lamps that used fluorescent light and later on, LEDs were used due to the speed they have when turning on and off.

These projects have produced good results. For example, in 2011, Harald Hass, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, managed to reproduce a video at a transmission speed of 10 Mb / s using a gooseneck.

The prototype he showed was called D-Light and was intended to be a complement to the Wi-Fi connection in environments such as aeroplanes, land vehicles and it can even serve as an Internet access point in public lighting.

This technology would be a great step towards the future of the IoT since it could be applied in our homes and even in our smartphones. And most importantly, it would be a cheap and sustainable technology. The communication speed for LEDs is expected to be between 100 Mb / s and 1 Gb / s.

How Does The Brain Create Our Reality?

According to neuroscience experts, our neurons work to create what we call conscious experience or consciousness. The brain itself makes a difference between intelligence and consciousness since the second has to do directly with the nature in which we live.

The Brain Create Our Reality

Anil Seth is a neuroscientist who studies the brain foundations of consciousness and the self. He affirms that we are beings who, constantly, are hallucinating in a more or less controlled way. When we accept these hallucinations we call them “reality.”

What Really is Consciousness?

Through the study of Anil Seth, we understand that there are two ways to understand it. In the first place, the experiences we live from the world around us made up of sounds, aromas or sensations that create a 3D multisensory panorama. That is as if it were an interior movie.

And secondly, there is the “conscious self”, the feeling of not being part of that inner film that shapes the world around us.

The brain as a single organism neither sees nor hears, but creates conjectures thanks to all the signals it receives from the outside world. Although the most curious thing is that perceptions are not created from the outside in but on the contrary. Our previous experiences determine how we perceive these signals.

We Constantly Hallucinate

The neuroscientists determine which humans construct our reality from hallucinations we control, provided that there is no mental illness prior. Even the “I” is built through these hallucinations.

Our experiences of the world and of ourselves as part of it are different types of controlled hallucinations. And that, as human beings, we have been moulding them over the centuries to keep us alive in the face of dangers.

In this way, when a person suffers from a mental illness, such as depression or schizophrenia, they perceive the world in the wrong way and, therefore, they perceive themselves inaccurately. This is because the prediction mechanisms are not working properly.

However, having been able to understand that there are people to whom this happens opens doors to research, both in psychiatry and neurology. Because it is not about symptoms of perception, but about the brain’s own mechanism, which has that function in our body.

Drones Replace Raptors as Airport Guards

Since the prominent naturalist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente proposed its application more than 50 years ago at the Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base, in Madrid, falconry has been essential in the airports of many cities throughout the world. The first to implement it was Barajas, which was later followed by others, both within Spain and outside its borders.

raptors as airport guards

The objective is to clear the sky of birds that can collide and hinder flights. Raptors drive them away, they are their natural predators and their mere presence is enough. In particular, several properly trained species of falcons and eagles are used.

This is the main practice to keep the environment safe, although it is not the only one. Apparatus that simulate their sound, gas trucks and pyrotechnics are also used.

Are These Measures Necessary?

You may wonder if all of this is necessary. For passengers, who do not know the inner workings of airports, measures are at least striking and perhaps somewhat exaggerated, more typical of a show than of a professional routine.

However, the truth is that these activities are important since on several occasions a bird or several of them have collided with an aeroplane when it was in the air, producing a serious danger to its stability.

The most notorious case is the one that happened in 2009 in New York with US Airways flight 1549. An American pilot managed to land a ship with 150 passengers on board on the Hudson River after two wild geese, weighing four kilograms each, hit the turbines, rendering them useless.

The surprising accident made it to the media and seven years later, in 2016, a film portrayed it for posterity. Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, delves into this true-life event that is now considered a historic feat in aviation.

However, despite their good performance, raptors could have substitutes in their work. AENA is exploring replacing them with drones.

Technology at the Service of Security

It is a pilot project at Burgos airport, in collaboration with Canard Drones. The project is part of the company’s innovation strategy, which has decided to bet on the possibilities offered by drones for space management and maintenance tasks.

These include chasing away potential birds, in the same way, that raptors do now, but also checking the infrastructure, pavements and markings.

So far, they have used two of these small devices for testing, of which first impressions are positive.

According to El Confidencial Digital, AENA considers that this decision may be more efficient, by reducing the time invested in the tasks, also obtaining, in some cases, better results. In addition, it is more sustainable, by replacing not only raptors but the vehicles and aircraft that are currently in charge of other maintenance activities.

Although it is early to establish definitive conclusions, in AENA they trust that their experiment will continue on the right track and that the Burgos airport itself, and others from different places, will acquire a fleet of these unmanned aircraft as new guards. If so, finally, it would be a new practical use to add to the wide collection that these flying vehicles already have.