High data rates, robustness, low energy consumption, data security and network capability top the list of demands facing the entire manufacturing and processing automation environment of increasingly complex industrial systems that depend on reliable communication between rising numbers of sensors, machines and control units. Due to such challenges, the demand for an alternative to current wired fieldbus systems has grown tremendously. Compared to wear-prone and expensive special cables or slip rings, wireless systems offer movable or moving plant equipment components such as grip arms or lifting gear greater reliability and increased safety, allowing for faster setup and more flexibility. Optical wireless systems also provide a practical solution for situations in which it is extremely difficult or even impossible to use cables to connect sensors or actuators with control units, resulting in significant savings in installation and maintenance costs. In addition, optical wireless data transmission can replace wear-susceptible, high-frequency connectors on printed circuit boards to ensure reliable board-to-board communication of data rates up to 12.5 Gbit per second.
Wireless technology developed at the Fraunhofer IPMS is, however, not limited only to supplementing or replacing wired transmission technologies. With a data transmission rate of 1 Gigabit per second, the IPMS technology is superior to conventional wireless radio technologies such as WLAN making it ideal for all areas of application requiring large amounts of data to be transmitted in real time.
At the 2015 OFC, Fraunhofer IPMS scientists will present the first Li-Fi HotSpot as a prototype for optical wireless communication over distances up to 10 meters. Already available as a Customer Evaluation Kit, the driverless transmitting/receiving module connects an optical transceiver and a protocol controller with a Gigabit Ethernet interface allowing for easy integration into standard industry systems.
Visitors at the 2015 OFC Conference and Exposition can find the Fraunhofer IPMS exhibition at Booth 2638.