Visible Light Communication (VLC), modulated with G.hn technology, is set to be the next major innovation in realizing the full potential of both smart homes and smart cities, contends the HomeGrid Forum, the industry alliance that promotes the use of the ITU-T’s G.hn gigabit-capable home networking technology standards.
According to Livia Rosu, the HomeGrid Forum’s marketing chair, “VLC has great potential for smart homes with high-density connectivity needs, especially where sensitive data needs to be transmitted between multiple connected devices within one room, because the light spectrum provides low latency and avoids the kind of interruption that can sometimes happen with radio frequency spectrum during congestion time." She adds, "It supports larger bandwidths, it can act as both a source and receiver, it has low power consumption, enhanced security, and is easy to install.”
Because VLC is light-based, its connectivity is bounded by the requirement for uninterrupted line of sight between transmitter and receiver. While this factor may limit a VLC’s operating range to a single room, there are environments where such characteristics may prove a benefit, contends Rosu.
“For environments such as schools and hospitals, VLC reduces electromagnetic interference, therefore not affecting sensitive devices," she explains. "For airports or government buildings, where there is more sensitive information that can be a target of cyberattack, VLC eliminates the risk of data interception by outsiders which are out of sight, therefore offering a vastly enhanced security platform."
For VLC networks to reach their full potential, installations will require a high-speed backbone – which G.hn can provide for both VLC and complementary Wi-Fi services, HomeGrid Forum asserts. “G.hn augments spectrum usage and provides security enhancements in addition to everything else. VLC has enormous potential and G.hn system vendors are fully prepared to embrace and support the new technology wave,” Rosu concludes.
The ITU-T ratified its first set of G.hn specifications in 2010. The specifications cover a variety of wired architectures, including powerline, coax, twisted-pair and plastic optical fiber. Its use to support VLC adds wireless to the G.hn mix, emphasizes the HomeGrid Forum.