Optical wireless communications technologies for the internet of things

by Dominic O’Brien, Professor of Engineering Science, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

The Internet of Things (IoT) presents a wide range of implementation challenges, including ensuring security, lowering energy consumption, and providing reliable communications. Optical Wireless Communications (OWC) and LiFi can assist in achieving this, and provide secure contained communications channels, energy that can be harvested by IoT nodes, and critically; new regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to alleviate the demands on the congested RF spectrum.

This presentation outlines some of the challenges in implementing IoT communications with light, and contrasts these with conventional RF communications. Hybrid techniques that combine RF and OWC are also discussed, together with some novel enabling technologies, including retro-reflecting communications and energy harvesting systems. Future directions for the research are outlined.


What drives you?
The excitement of discovery, and of training a new generation of engineers and scientists.

Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
To gain knowledge and understand some of the new communications technologies that are becoming available.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
In the short run the increase in connectivity of devices, and the potential to use them for a wide range of new applications. In the longer term the availability of new quantum technologies, for applications such as secure communications.

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Increased connectivity will have impact in areas such as transportation, where the information from the connected devices is vital for efficient networks.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Non-technical barriers such as trust, implementation of security, standardisation, are likely to play a large part in the success of these technologies, although energy consumption, reliability of communications and integration challenges will be significant.

About Dominic O’Brien

Dominic O’Brien is a Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford and is co-director for systems engineering for the Oxford Led Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) hub. He has research interests in optical wireless and free-space communications systems, and leads the optical communications group in Engineering Science.

About Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford is a unified engineering department, covering all major areas within the discipline.

Dominic O’Brien will speak at the 2019 edition of this conference.

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