New Wireless Technologies: LIFI and DIDO

Two new wireless technologies were unveiled to the public in the last few weeks. Harald Haas, speaking at TED Global, demonstrated wireless through LED lighting–basically fiber optics without the fiber. The Haas demonstration is impressive and the technology appears to be close to market for local operations, such as a building, although it is unclear to me how the signal is intended to reach the socket over distance  (broadband over power lines has proven difficult to implement). Here is Haas at TED:

Meanwhile Steve Perlman of Rearden Labs (yes, that Rearden) says his new DIDO technology breaks Shannon’s Law by at least 100 times–do note that these are fighting words, it isn’t called a law for nothing. What appears to be most impressive about the Perlman technology is that it is capable of being used over significant distances. We have yet to see a demonstration at large scale, however.

Business Week has a puffy but still fascinating profile of Perlman which includes this bit:

…his parents were both physicians, and they denied him an Apple II computer. They feared he would spend all day playing video games on the blasted machine—and they were right. “I was forced to build my own computer and create a graphics display for it and then write video games that I could play,” Perlman says….

Perlman would use this self-taught ability to understand electronics and computers as a way of getting out of jams. During his senior year in high school, he skipped so many classes that he was in danger of not graduating. So he built an illuminated marquee for the drama department to secure an English credit. Then he designed a computer simulation of the forces behind swings in the U.S. economy during the 19th century for a history credit. Later, while attending Columbia University, Perlman says he took a computer-programming class and taught himself Pascal during the open-book, midterm exam.


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