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Light and the Unexplored Communications Frontier

#sxsw #light

Free-space optical communications stand to fundamentally change how humans use wireless networks. Whereas fiber-optic communications enabled the formation of the global network, free-space optical communication will facilitate the explosive growth of local, infrastructure-free networks. Leveraging LED bulbs, displays, phone screens, and other ubiquitous light sources, we can create scalable, local networks. These networks will not be used simply to gain Internet access, but rather, will be used to facilitate communication between humans and devices in an interactive way that cannot be achieved with RF. Light (and thus data) can easily be covered, focused, diffused, and directed - allowing the user a unique level of control regarding where and how data is sent. The shift from RF to optics is not an evolution, but rather a revolution in the way we think about wireless networking and device interaction.


Travis Rich Researcher MIT Media Lab

Travis is currently a student at the MIT Media Lab. He work explores how to use wireless optical networks to create natural, intuitive interactions between people, the physical world, and the digital ecosystem. He advocates a shift from centralized information networks to scalable, user-dictated networks that mimic how humans naturally exchange information (peer-to-peer, vision based, and local). Prior to joining the Media Lab, Travis spent his time as an entrepreneur, co-founding ByteLight Inc, a company creating LED lightbulbs capable of streaming data through general-purpose white light. Travis received his M.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Boston University where he worked as a researcher at the Smart Lighting Center and the Nanostructure Optics Lab.

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