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First Ceiling Light Internet Systems Installed

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the how-the-gov't-will-control-your-mind dept.

Networking 179

An anonymous reader writes "We last heard about LVX's LED ceiling light optical communication system in December, and now news has broken that the company recently implemented the technology at several city offices in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The LVX/ceiling light system is capable of transmitting data at about three megabits per second, which is about as fast as a residential DSL line. It works by placing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in a standard-sized light fixture. This then transmits coded binary messages to the special modems attached to computers, which also respond via light waves."

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foooorrrst pooostt (-1, Offtopic)

Noogie Brown (889153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868008)

omg wow check my doubles -->

Welcome to 1994... (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868010)

The return of the infra-red access point, even if its not infra red this time around same bad concept.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868092)

Why is this a bad idea again? It's not overly speedy but it's plenty fast enough for almost any sort of office use.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (0)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868188)

Because it's a security violation for any real enterprise. Forget Faraday, you're broadcasting, and accepting lightwave-carrier connections right through the air and the nearest window. Why not just put your servers in a parking lot with a "free" sign on it and call it a day? Mr. T laughs at this protocol; "I pity the foo who thinks this is a good idea!" -- Mr. T

Re:Welcome to 1994... (4, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868266)

Transmitting the data through the air, you mean like WiFi and cell phones do all the time? Too bad we don't have a way to scramble the data in a way that makes its contents inaccessible unless someone has the "key"...

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869214)

...or have more secure means of encapsulating data behind strong encryption. Really is a pity nobody has come up with such security measures.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869418)

i agree, it's little different from wifi, but i don't understand why it's better than wifi? It doesn't sound cheaper to install. It's definitely not faster. It doesn't work through drywall. It doesn't sound like it's friendly to portable systems.

the TFA says it's better because it uses visible light rather than magnetic radio waves. It doesn't give any reasons why thats better. Though i imagine visible light is less prone to certain kinds of interference, its far more prone to the interference of walls. Plus, the days of microwaves disrupting wi-fi seem to be over. Unless you have an MRI machine next to your desk, you probably have a reliable wifi signal.

I guess it could be some kind of homeopathic new network transport. It might make all those people who are scared of wifi feel better. that may be true, but in my experience, the bands of the electromagnetic spectrum that do the most damage to me seem to be closest to visible light.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869496)

Transmitting the data through the air, you mean like WiFi and cell phones do all the time? Too bad we don't have a way to scramble the data in a way that makes its contents inaccessible unless someone has the "key"...

I assume you're suggesting they secure the data transmitted through the air scrambled with proven commercial protections like WEP [aircrack-ng.org] , WPA-PSK [infoworld.com] , or were you thinking they might secure it with a product more widely used, like GSM [wikipedia.org] ?

Last month when I read the article about their system, they claimed it was a "highly secure solution." But they did did not reveal any technical details that said "we're using protocol x with algorithm y to secure communications." So for now, we know only that they claim their system is highly secure, but they've given us no basis for that claim.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868268)

Because it's a security violation for any real enterprise. Forget Faraday, you're broadcasting, and accepting lightwave-carrier connections right through the air and the nearest window.

So "Real enterprises" never use WiFi?

Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868338)

So "Real enterprises" never use WiFi?

Real enterprises treat it as a second class network, but all desktops are generally still on a wired network.

They also generally have you use an encrypted VPN even if you're on an internal WiFi.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868386)

Real Enterprises know how to deal with the security issue of Wi-Fi.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868484)

Exactly.

And substituting Light for Radio presents no real problems for competent security staff.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (5, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868876)

REAL enterprises use subspace transmissions.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (1)

tangelogee (1486597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868960)

REAL enterprises use subspace transmissions.

and an ODN...

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34869350)

Real Enterprises know how to deal with the security issue of LED networks, they close the shades.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (1)

ghjm (8918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868770)

No, those are dumbass enterprises, which I agree is most of them.

Real enterprises build out a PKI infrastructure and use client certificates to admit wireless clients to the corporate network.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (4, Interesting)

bertok (226922) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868922)

So "Real enterprises" never use WiFi?

Real enterprises treat it as a second class network, but all desktops are generally still on a wired network.

They also generally have you use an encrypted VPN even if you're on an internal WiFi.

The irony is that all but the most criminally negligent IT administrators would apply military-strength cryptography to their WiFi links, but allow data to traverse the wired connections in the clear, which means that the wireless link is substantially more secure!

One of the biggest vulnerabilities in any large office building is the wired network. It's trivial for an attacker dressed in a suit to simply walk in, sit down at an empty desk, plug in, and start doing packet captures. Switched networks provide minimal protection, thanks to DNS cache and ARP cache poisoning attacks and the like.

You'd be amazed at how ignorant typical IT administrators are of the risk. I've heard ridiculous things like:

"But you need to fill out a form to get network access!"
- Only if I follow the rules. Nothing stops me from physically connecting.

"You need an AD account to connect to the network!"
- They're thinking of network shares, but the exploitable vulnerabilities are at the IP network layer.

"Your computer is not a member of the domain, it can't connect!"
- That's largely irrelevant, once you have a user account, practically everything is accessible even from a machine that's in an untrusted workgroup.

These aren't from rare isolated incidents either, I hear one of those three almost every time I sit down at a new customer as a consultant. System administrators live in a fantasy land of imagined security.

Re:Real enterprises very cautious with WiFi. (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869042)

You think all the switch ports are on? You think they will talk to just any mac address? You think the IDS will not notice your ARP poisoning?

Sure wired networks are a risk and there are ways around what I mentioned, but you are clearly talking about the follys of Windows Operators. Please do not call those folks System administrators.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1, Flamebait)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869062)

Not in a way that makes it a security violation. You must be new here, so let me school you before this slashvertisement gets anymore stupid...

1) My REAL enterprise uses a fake honeypot wifi with a visible SSID.

2) The "convenience" wifi has a hidden SSID and it is NOT connected to the internal networks, you have to VPN back in for that.

3) My wifi capable laptop has it's wifi shutoff with a nice switch in the front and I only use the wired ethernet.

So, go back you your closet of a data center, take all your servers and place them in the parking lot like I suggested earlier, because:

YOU FAIL!!1!

Nice try, but you're talking to Data Center Jesus here, not some Windows Admin ding-a-ling. No charge for your schooling today, sonny. Use more Linux and less Windows, and you might start getting a contact clue.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869174)

Yeah, I'm new here.

I've only been around long enough to learn two things:

1) how to evaluate Slashdot Poster ID numbers.

2) how to detect posers calling themselves a "data center Jesus".

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868278)

How does the light get outside without windows? Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (4, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868356)

Just one more reason not to use Windows, I suppose.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868406)

(They may not have added one) But it's pretty easy to add an encryption layer.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868516)

Because it's a security violation for any real enterprise. Forget Faraday, you're broadcasting, and accepting lightwave-carrier connections right through the air and the nearest window.

I can see how it would be a problem at night, but I seriously doubt you'ld have an easy time catching it in the daytime. It would be as easy or maybe even easier to watch people log on from a distance, with binoculars or a telescope.

I do see how it would freak an admin out, though.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (3, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868706)

I can see how it would be a problem at night

I'm not even sure it would necessarily be a problem at night. I'm pretty sure these things would be programmed with maybe a 45-degree cone, and the client computers would be sending their signals back from down inside Cubicle Canyon. You might be able to get some reflection off the ceiling tiles and cubicle tops, but that's going to be a very weak signal.

Plus, there's no real indication of what frequency these use, but it seems to me that it'd be pretty simple to just put up a filter for that frequency on any outside-facing windows. With RF, there's always a chance of a crack in the shielding that has to completely and utterly surround the building allowing leakage. With light, it can only exit through the windows and openings. You know where your gaps are, and can fix them a lot more easily.

Wired is, as many have observed, faster and more secure. But if you need wireless, I could see lightwave wireless as being a pretty viable solution. Especially if you throw some WPA2/AES-level security over it, and maybe illuminate your outside-facing window surfaces with a few well-aimed LEDs sending continuous gibberish.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869464)

if you need wireless, I could see lightwave wireless as being a pretty viable solution. .

yeah, but what's better for the bottom line? it seems really impractical to get a bunch of new light fixtures wired up when you could just bolt one box to the wall and get 30x the speed at least.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868722)

So? Radio is light just a different color. I mean really you are just going to use the exact same types of solution for this as you would wifi. Encryption.
The good thing is that since this is new you can take all the lessons learned from wifi and apply them to this tech.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34869330)

You seem to be suggesting that the "enterprise" you work for does not know how to encrypt wireless connections. Either that, or you do not know it is a possible thing to do with wireless.

There's simply no reason that the same techniques for encrypting wireless 802.11g/n can't also be used here. If you do not trust your wireless access point, then you run a VPN. You know what a VPN is, right?

There was a point where I didn't "get" this optical/lighting networking either, or at least I wondered what's the point? This is actually MORE secure than radio wireless, since it's extremely difficult to keep radio signals from leaking out of your room, building, or property. To block wireless radio signals, you need a lot thicker or specially treated walls.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868326)

Why is this a bad idea again?

  1. Install one or a couple of 802.11 access point; requires one power adapter and one (or zero, if WDS is used) Ethernet cable per AP. Everyone in the office can then access the network using 802.11 adapters built into most laptops and in many desktops. Get up to 54 Mbps link speed.
  2. Rip up your ceiling and route hundreds of cables to hundreds of IR transceivers there. Buy one IR modem for each computer, connect with more wires. Test the configuration. Get a few Mbps link speed. If a wire gets damaged somewhere, rip up your ceiling again.

So which one makes more sense? Note that high speed links are necessary because you want fast access to servers that store your large files. With 802.11a/n you can get high data rates *and* constrain the covered area to your office. Each 5 GHz AP will cover radius of 10-20 meters just fine, especially if few walls are in between. WDS is also a good option at those bit rates.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868800)

Why is this a bad idea

Because the WiFis cause the cancers! I learned this on the internets and from the city council of San Fransisco.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869530)

Why is this a bad idea

Because the WiFis cause the cancers!

Across the whole electromagnetic spectrum, it's visible light and it's immediate neighbors that seem to cause me the most measurable harm.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868364)

Well the immediately obvious problem is that it presumably requires line-of-sight.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869414)

It works 99% of the time, but the first time you get direct sunlight shining directly into the receiver, you're screwed. (This does occaissionally happen to satellite and other radio receivers.)

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868142)

Or do you mean 1984?

Think on that one... ;)

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868196)

The return of the infra-red access point, even if its not infra red this time around same bad concept.

Well presuming the developers are not total idiots, lets give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they at least encourage WPA2 or something.

In a closed room, at least you can be assured your transmissions aren't seeping thru walls as with regular WiFi.

Even in an windowed room or public space, assuming the use of the above mentioned security, what is the difference in using light as opposed to radio waves?

Other than the slow speed of this early version, and its line of sight restriction, what causes you to call it a "bad concept"?

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868318)

Maybe I'm just a bit dense but why would you need a 3 or even 10mbps solution like this in a professional setting when I can get better reliability and performance off of a cat3 cable and off the shelf NICs?

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868466)

No maybe about it.

This is cheaper infrastructure, easier to set up, MORE secure the Wi-Fi and 3 mbps is fine from most office needs.

The cat3 cable and router require an whole wired infrastructure all the way to the desk.

This does not. I can put up a temporary area and have people on the network without worrying about hard ports address, wiring, and several other issues.

You know, there is more to setting up an enterprise wide infrastructure then there is to your panty ass home network.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869130)

So this solution is somehow more secure than WIFI/RF although you don't mention how. Easier to setup but you would have to buy new adapters for each client and support them rather than the built in WIFI already present in pretty much all mobile devices. On top of it all provides less bandwidth then 802.11b. I admit I'm sold where do I sign?

Re:Welcome to 1994... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868698)

I'm thinking mobile computers, inventory carts, etc. without as much (?) of the broadcast reflection you get with WiFi.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868308)

This can use much higher output power, as it's the room lighting which you want to reach all areas of the room anyway. A drawback though is that the duty cycle has to be near 100%, otherwise the room lighting would dim. That has to cut into bandwidth.

Tunelling and Anti-crowding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868400)

Today computer-power is a plentiful resource. With network tunneling and encryption it is safe to transfer with light. I have seen my fair share of places where networks are really slow due to bad connections due to overcrowding of the wireless spectrum. Hope this tech will be cheap soon.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868558)

yep, it's really obscure to me!

Re:Welcome to 1994... (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868562)

It's true that IR was slow and cumbersome, but damn was it useful for small-file transfers, and most implementations were a LOT less cumbersome than, say, the simplest bluetooth.

There are several possible advantages to a concept like this.

First, light is a lot harder to intercept unless you can see it. Light cannot penetrate walls. For those applications where you are afraid of RF being intercepted by ne'er-do-wells, using light is pretty brilliant (OK, my only bad pun in this post, I promise. Maybe). All your worker drones are in soulless, windowless cubicles, so there's little to no chance of light escaping the building in readable form. A Pringles can and a few minutes with a Yagi antenna tutorial will yield someone lots of RF lovin', and shielding all that costs serious coin and it's easy to miss an exit vector for RF.

Second, there are 11 US-licensed RF channels with plenty of crosstalk opportunity between adjacent channels. If your worker drones are down in cubes, you could install one of these in every other light fixture and reach every worker drone with their own discrete light channel with no crosstalk.

Third, for those with some sort of sensitivity to RF (or perceived sensitivity), you're flooding them with, well, light. At much lower intensities than the light fixture is already putting out. If they're concerned about exposure to that, allow them to wear a fedora at work. Problem solved.

Obviously the easiest, fastest, and most secure answer is to run sufficient copper to give everyone a network plug (then secure them so your wired traffic is encrypted and no random idiot can plug a sniffer into a port and start watching traffic flow, or plug a non-approved bit of hardware into the LAN and start seeing what resources they can access). But if you want reasonable-speed wireless in a computer-dense environment, light might work pretty well.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868802)

Third, for those with some sort of sensitivity to RF (or perceived sensitivity), you're flooding them with, well, light.

Genius!!

Hang some totally non functional blinking lights on the ceiling and tell all the Birkenstock whiners complaining about WiFi sensitivity that you've eliminated the problem just for them.

Quick, does anyone have Ron Popeil's phone number?

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869244)

Third, for those with some sort of sensitivity to RF (or perceived sensitivity), you're flooding them with, well, light. At much lower intensities than the light fixture is already putting out. If they're concerned about exposure to that, allow them to wear a fedora at work. Problem solved.

What about people with light sensitivities? Generally fluorescent lights aren't to bad when placed in pairs, but when you get odd numbers of light tubes and flickering, that does seem to cause trouble for some folks.

Re:Welcome to 1994... (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869630)

you provided the best use cases i've seen for this tech, but aren't the people who whine about exposure to RF also the people who can detect the blinking of florescent lights? i think just as many people are going to complain about these lights giving them migranes and hypnotizing them.

Two-Way? (0)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868044)

Sort of like a Timex Data-Link Watch?!

And unlike said-watch - how does one transmit data back the other direction?!

Re:Two-Way? (3, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868094)

From the summary:

This then transmits coded binary messages to the special modems attached to computers, which also respond via light waves."

Re:Two-Way? (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868618)

In the summary, hiding in plain sight!
I see what they did there... >_>

Wait - (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868096)

My office's ceiling lights started flickering recently. Have they been upgraded with this system, too?

Re:Wait - (1)

rusl (1255318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868426)

And the streetlight turned off when I walked under it...

I AM THE ANTI-INTERNET!

Re:Wait - (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869220)

That's funny, the lights in my office flicker out Morse code instructing me to kill my boss.
Wait, maybe that's the buzzing in my fillings...

Troubleshooting this would be ... difficult. (5, Funny)

Aussenseiter (1241842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868098)

"Sir, are there three green lights on the modem?"

"Hang on, let me climb my ladder."

(crashing noise is heard in background)

Re:Troubleshooting this would be ... difficult. (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868288)

Hm. Seems something very similar to this was depicted [southparkstudios.com] a while ago...

It is not first (3, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868110)

First was IBM Zurich 30 or so years ago with IR on the ceiling as a connection method

Then there was the IR profile for WiFi. 802.11b at 1Mbit actually has an optical option. However as there is nobody doing it any more so there is no standards compliant kit out there.

Otherwise it is a very cool idea for a number of applications. There are places where you just do not want radio for a variety of reasons. Light is much less likely to cause interference and is much easier to keep "contained" so it is not eavesdropped on.

Re:It is not first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868336)

The only reason I could see wanting to use light is if you are doing espionage and don't want to be detected by a spectrum analyzer. Otherwise, wired or wireless (with sufficient encryption) works just fine. Heck, they even have wireless on airplanes, now!

Oh God, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868346)

Radio is light. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radiation

Re:Oh God, really? (2)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868506)

Vernacular uses "light" to mean "visible light". Please move along.

Re:Oh God, really? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868760)

But infra-red is light that's not normally visible... which makes me wonder if we had a proper capture device to convert radio to visual, could we actually see radio waves like we do with iR? If you put in a fog machine, will that let you see the edges of the broadcast wave?

I somehow doubt these systems use visible light or the headaches and epileptic shock rates will skyrocket from all the blinking.

Re:Oh God, really? (2)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868896)

Consider me wrong, the article says it's visible, but it's at a refresh that human eye's cannot detect. Serves me right for not reading either article. ;)

Re:Oh God, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34869576)

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. -wikipedia

Why not use RF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868128)

Why not just stick a regular wireless (RF) transmitter in the light fixture?

I don't understand the point of this. Unlike RF (as far as we know), this actually could give people headaches or whatever.

Re:Why not use RF? (2)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868186)

Because RF can go through walls and the whole point of visible band communication is privacy.

Re:Why not use RF? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868250)

Light can go through windows.

Better to just add 7 more feet of wire.

Re:Why not use RF? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869104)

Ethernet is just one more thing that gets in the way. Wireless connections are unobtrusive. They could even use an infrared band that doesn't travel through windows very well.

Re:Why not use RF? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869484)

They are also unreliable and prone too all kinds of issues. Ethernet is far better for anything that will be in one location on a regular basis.

Re:Why not use RF? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868340)

Because RF can go through walls and the whole point of visible band communication is privacy.

And short of a small overlap near doors, each room won't interfere with the room next door or the hallways.

3Mbps might be slow, but then again if you're sharing an 802.11g network with a few folks who are busy anyways but elsewhere in the location, it's gonna be that slow too, or slower. Or if you're in an apartment and can see 30 accesspoints from your location...

Re:Why not use RF? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869428)

So... each room is served via lights, and the ground line is used for each circuit in the building? Then you just need a switch at the fuse box that connects to the internet and/or company network....

BOFH vs. The Ficus tree (4, Funny)

ArcadeX (866171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868232)

User: My network won't work.... Tech: Move your ficus tree so it's not blocking the light again...

Re:BOFH vs. The Ficus tree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868488)

"Move your ficus tree"

That's my medical marijuana plant, you insensitive clod!

Re:BOFH vs. The Ficus tree (1)

GunSheep (982756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868772)

Ficus tree? Hell, your whole network could be taken down by the most obvious method....dust. Who is going to keep the dust off the receivers? The users? The cleaning crew? What happens if they use a little Endust to keep the dust from building up? How well does it work with a layer of uh....crud..... like a mixture of pledge and office dust. Office remodel? Whole system is offline due to sheetrock dust.....

Health Effects (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868254)

Has anyone considered the Health erffects of BINARY lightwaves on the human Brain? Analog light has been proven by experience to be safe but do we know if the digithal lightwaves will be safe?? This is kust like the POLLUTION of our ETHER with digital (electromagnetic) radiation. When will people learn that just because science can, doesnt mean that science SHOULD???

MOD +1 TERRIFYING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34869474)

and stuff

In other news... (2)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868256)

the newly formed company Fee@Ces inc. announced a breakthrough in encoding binary data in output stools.
"This is great !", an employee of the Sewer City company announced proudly, "Now when I want to convey messages to my colleagues, I simply visit the bathroom and the technology takes care of the rest. And, using our technology of a series of pipes, we can even use this to work from home.".
Fee@Ces did mention that inputting data back to users is a bit harder, as a spokesman said: "Users will need to properly operate the machinery involved to read out the processed stool messages. Failure in doing so can give unexpected results.". It was unclear at the time of writing what the 'unexpected result' meant, as the spokesman had to quickly take care of an 'accident' he had at the bathroom himself.

Oblig. nerd reference. (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868302)

There are four lights!

Re:Oblig. nerd reference. (1)

JoshRosenbaum (841551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868738)

That was a memorable episode. Loved Picard's and the Cardassian interrogator's roles in it. Also loved the end when Picard says he actually thought there were five lights. Great two-part episode.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868312)

My old thinkpads IRDA port was faster than 3mbit. You can't do shit with 3mbit..most broadband Internet connections are much faster than 3mbit.

In the age of $50 APs with much better range and throughput where the hell is the market for this or more simply why should anyone care?

So if I'm wearing my special glassess... (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868328)

...can I see the Matrix?

Advantages? (2)

dstyle5 (702493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868342)

Given the plethora of proven connectivity options out there, I can't envision a scenario where I would chose this implementation over others. From TFA they talk about saving energy with the LED lighting system, but couldn't you by a cheaper LED lighting control system without their "value added" data transmission tech added to the cost?

Re:Advantages? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868994)

Given the plethora of proven connectivity options out there, I can't envision a scenario where I would chose this implementation over others. From TFA they talk about saving energy with the LED lighting system, but couldn't you by a cheaper LED lighting control system without their "value added" data transmission tech added to the cost?

Yes. However, so much of the cost of an LED system is in the LED's themselves, and so little is in the hardware that's running the driver, that adding extra functionality to the driver has marginal added cost to the overall package. Moreover, businesses and particularly government purchasing offices are *screaming* for managed light systems that they can remotely monitor and shut down per-unit. That means networking to the light, with control over whether it's on or off, is already included in such a design, so adding an ethernet port at the controller and having it send out packets is a pretty minor addition. (I work in LED driver design. I don't design them, I just test them, but the designers work down the hall, so I learn a lot about commercial lighting.)

Security (1)

ithmus (70077) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868384)

It's probably a wise precaution to install a firewall. Also known as a wall.

Re:Security (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869292)

I'm guessing that if they aren't careful sunlight is going to be a problem. On the plus side though, tinted windows would block the signal.

Insecure (2)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868408)

I seem to recall when modems with lights were still in use, that a video tape of the flashing lights on the modem could be slowed down enough to read the stream of bits. Granted 3mb/s is a great deal faster than 56kb/s, but video technology is faster now, too.
I would presume there is encryption on both ends, but I see a small IR led "bug" left on top of a computer, cube wall, file cabinet, etc. serving as a middle man pickup of the stream while it is decoded on the other end.

Re:Insecure (2)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868804)

If you can get physical access to the facility, they're screwed anyway. Your "bug" could be RJ-45 based and cover a lot more of the network.

I think the major point is that containing light is a lot easier than containing the current 802.11x frequency ranges. Light cannot penetrate walls. It can only penetrate air, glass, and other transparent or translucent surfaces.

Of course, electrons on copper are even more secure, assuming your hacker doesn't have building access. Anything that emits any form of radiation can have that radiation "read". Light would be halfway between Wired and current WiFi technologies in terms of the ability to secure it.

Re:Insecure (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868806)

It's not really any different than Wifi except that you will probably get a bit more security by direct firing the light. (I assume it's using encryption.)

Re:Insecure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34869152)

Wouldn't you need a video camera with 6 million frames per second (Nyquist frequency)? Is this more insecure than someone otherwise listening to a network?

Re:Insecure (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869216)

I seem to recall when modems with lights were still in use, that a video tape of the flashing lights on the modem could be slowed down enough to read the stream of bits. Granted 3mb/s is a great deal faster than 56kb/s, but video technology is faster now, too. I would presume there is encryption on both ends, but I see a small IR led "bug" left on top of a computer, cube wall, file cabinet, etc. serving as a middle man pickup of the stream while it is decoded on the other end.

Doesn't have to be modems. You can recreate network traffic from reflected flashes from a network switch [scientificamerican.com] , although this report [cnet.com] claims that it is, probably, restricted to 56kbps modems, not 10/100mbps ethernet cards.

Re:Insecure (1)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869398)

You would need a very special camera to catch such high-speed toggling of the LED. Normal video 24-30 frames per second. That's well below the 300 baud of even early modems and you need at least twice the switching frequency to get the data (Nyquist). At 3MB/s they would need to be encoding a lot of bits per switch to get in range of a video camera. Some specialized sensors can do 1 million frames per second but their buffers can only handle 100 frames at a time.

Way too expensive (1)

Alphanos (596595) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868436)

It's easy to see that any system requiring special light fixtures and modems for each PC will be far more expensive than simply setting up a wireless access point or two for each floor of a building. This wouldn't even just be a one-time cost, but would apply as part of regular maintenance - which is easier, to swap out a router, or to bring in contractors to replace all of a company's light fixtures?

A system like this could really only be practical where conventional wireless can't be used for some reason. Perhaps in offices where security is the foremost consideration (CIA?), or a building right next to a high-powered radio broadcast tower.

Interbuilding communication (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868478)

You could even use this for inter-building communication. Stick and transceiver on an outside wall, with the opposite building doing the same. For improved reliability increase the intensity and use a laser instead.

As other people have mentioned the technology is not that novel, but the fact they are actually try to move the technology forward is of interest, since there are scenarios where a more limited signal transmitting solution actually has it uses. Security being one of them. Sure any device in the room could receive the signal, but as wi-fi implementations have shown there are solutions.

BTW in Europe I have seen stores using the fluorescent lighting with data modulated into them to update price tags on the shelves.

Won't somebody think of the neon light worriers? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868514)

But what about the people who say that fluorescent tube lights flicker at a frequency that gives them headaches etc? Oh boy there will be office workers complain these lights give them migraines, cancer, the lot.

Plus the occasional crazy telling us that the lights were speaking to him....

Simple. (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868666)

Just don't tell them about it. They'll be fine.

Re:Won't somebody think of the neon light worriers (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868808)

Well if it is transmiting 3mbs then it must be modulated at no less then 6 mhz. Nobody can see a 6 mhz flicker so it should be a none issue.

Re:Won't somebody think of the neon light worriers (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34869536)

It should be but the loonies will claim it hurts them somehow. These are the same folks that claim Wifi gives them cancer or whatever.

Epilepsy? (1)

Khopesh (112447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34868624)

Is there any risk of epilepsy [wikipedia.org] ? I'm guessing there isn't (since it's way too fast), but the right combination of bits might be able to do it, though probably only if intentionally rigged. The point is that this technology makes that possible, perhaps also untraceable.

Didn't we already come up with this 15 years ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868758)

I think it used to be called IRDA.

I think I remember it also sucked. Hard.

Messages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34868890)

They keep sending messages to my brain. How can I make them stop...

Stay out of my optical cortex! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34869392)

Don't know about you people, but I'm going to have to start lining my hats with aluminum foil again. The voices... the voices....

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