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Fraunhofer to showcase wireless high-speed communication solution at Automate event

The Fraunhofer Institute will showcase a contactless and fiber-free high-speed optical communication solution at the Automate Show.

Instead of radio frequency, the solution uses light to transfer data wirelessly.

Automate 2019 is scheduled to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago from 8-11 April. 

High-speed data links between machine parts are required to support the highly automated processes in modern production lines.

Cables and connectors are usually used to link machine parts, but broken cables and worn contacts consistently lead to time-consuming error searches and costly shutdown periods.

Therefore, the obvious thing to do is to avoid using cables and connectors wherever possible.

While RF-based communication struggles with interferences, limited bandwidth and security issues, wireless optical data communication is becoming increasingly important in the industrial wireless communication sector.

Also known as Li-Fi (Light Fidelity), this optical communication technology offers a high, license-free bandwidth range critical for applications transferring large amounts of data in real time from one end device to another without using cables.

Li-Fi offers higher reliability and more safety than wear-prone and expensive specialty cables, connectors or rotary joints, especially for mobile and moving systems such as robots arms.

The benefits of the wireless communication technology also include low power consumption as well as high data security.

At Automate 2019, Fraunhofer will present a communication module for short communication distances up to 10 cm at a maximum data rate of 12.5 Gigabit per second.

Dr Frank Deicke, head of the optical wireless communication group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, says: “Achievable bandwidths of up to 12.5 Gigabits per second are ten times faster than WLAN wireless solutions.

“Nevertheless, we have been able to achieve very good real-time characteristics at distances of up to 5 cm with latencies in a microsecond range.

“In other words, this technology guarantees transfer of data streams in real-time. With a footprint of 5x5x5 mm, the Li-Fi GigaDock transceiver can be easily integrated in communication modules to provide a bidirectional and full-duplex data link.”

Based on emerging technologies, Fraunhofer IPMS research and development services include wireless optical communication solutions, technology consulting, concept development, hard- and software design, as well as pilot and small-scale production.

Visitors to the Automate 2019 can experience the possibilities of optical wireless data transmission at the Fraunhofer IPMS Booth 9140.