Offices Could Employ ‘Smart Glass’ Windows That Use Sun To Make ‘Wi-Fi’
By Alexa Heah, 02 Nov 2022
A team of researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia has come up with an energy-saving alternative to Wi-Fi, but this time, it’s not just about switching to a more efficient router.
Instead, the innovative system makes use of “smart glass” windows, infused with Dual-cell Liquid Crystal Shutters (DLSs) to rapidly alter the polarity of sunlight, using the sunshine to wirelessly transmit data to electronic devices in place of traditional Wi-Fi.
The two-part system comprises a light modulator that can be embedded in glass, such as in large office windows, and an in-room receiver to transmit the encoded data.
Interestingly, the glass—which acts as a filter to encode signals into the light passing through—will only require one watt of energy to work, which could be easily supplied with a small solar panel.
This isn’t the first time optical wireless communication systems have been developed, though, in past instances, scientists have encoded the data by varying light intensity.
The problem with this method is if the frequency of the changes gets too low, it’ll be perceived by the human eye in the form of an uncomfortable flicker.
KAUST’s innovation, on the other hand, focuses on light polarization, which is imperceptible to the eye and eliminates the possibility of office workers being disrupted by constant flickering.
By detecting the change in the polarization of light from the incoming sunlight passing through the modular, the receiver then decodes the transmitted data to the connected gadgets.
According to the team, the proposed system could transmit data at a rate of 16 Kilobits per second, though the prototype has yet to be tested. Going forward, it hopes to increase the speed of transmission from Kilobits to Mega- and Gigabits per second.
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