Now, I think for the first time ever, researchers at the National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan have transmitted data using lasers — not high-powered, laboratory-dwelling lasers; handheld, AAA-battery laser pointers. The setup is rather simple: The engineers took a red and green laser pointer, wired in a 500Mbps data stream into each, and simply pointed them at photodiode receptors. On the receiving end, the signals are amplified and then multiplexed to create a 1Gbps data stream. The complete setup, according to New Scientist, cost just $600.
Will laser-based VLC actually find its way to market, then? There’s no getting around the fact that laser links are highly directional (even more so than the shoddy IrDA networks of yore), and atmospheric conditions will play a big part in the BER, and thus the actual data rate. With WiGig making its way to market, laser pointer VLC will probably never be seen by consumers. Still, for quick bursts of data between mobile devices, or wireless communications in hospitals, or simply as a fun hobby for amateur radio (?) operators, cheap, laser pointer VLC could be very useful indeed.