The D-Light project at the University of Edinburgh has been active for close to two years and has made a number of advances in the field of visible light communication. Most notable is the work on special modulation methods and encoding schemes enabling large data rates to be achieved from commercial off-the-shelf components. As a member of this team, I thought I might take the opportunity to blow our trumpet a little about our recent achievements.
When the D-Light project began in January of 2010, it had two primary objectives. The first was technical and the second was commercial. These objectives were to be achieved within two years, i.e. by the end of December 2011.
D-Light Technical Objective:
To achieve a minimum of 100Mbit/s data rate from a standard low-cost LED light bulb and this would be achieved under normal lighting conditions. The test distances would be 1-4m and the error rates would be better than one error in 10,000 bits (so that the errors can be corrected). The signal processing was also to be done in real-time.
It is accepted that it would have been possible to achieve considerably better headline data rates with special LEDs under controlled lighting and by allowing greater error rates over shorter distances. It is also much simpler if the signal processing is done off-line rather than in real-time. However, the reason for the practical constraints will become obvious when the commercial objective is explained.
D-Light Commercial Objective:
To create a spin-out company!
To create a viable spin-out company requires the development of products (or services) that work in real operating conditions, rather than controlled lab conditions. This is the reason that the technical objective had a very practical, as opposed to academic, focus.
The D-Light project team are pleased to announce that the main technical objective has been achieved ahead of schedule. 102.5Mbit/s has recently been measured in normal lighting conditions (with sunlight and artificial lighting). This was achieved using an off-the-shelf 18 watt Osram Ostar white LED lamp. The desired test distance was achieved with measured error rates of better than 1:10,000 and all of the processing is being done in real-time. Having achieved the project’s primary technical objective with more than 3 months remaining we can expect further improvements before the project concludes. The projects technical team are to be congratulated on this achievement.
The viability of the spin-out company is not so much about the technology itself, it is about what can be delivered to the customer in the near-term, i.e. VLC applications they are willing to pay for. We are now focussed on short-term VLC revenue opportunities, the long-term opportunities seem massive but there is only a long-term where there is short-term viability. The great news is that the D-Light spin-out seed investment round is likely to be oversubscribed based on the interest expressed at this stage and so we might expand the goals of our seed phase. Potential investors for this or future rounds can contact me at via the contact page.
So it now seems certain that the spin-out will happen; the team is motivated, the University want this to happen and the investors are keen. We are already certain that we can raise the minimum requirement in the seed round. The primary commercial objective looks certain to be achieved.
In term of the D-Light project goals, it looks certain that our mission will be fully accomplished. Of course as any Entrepreneur will tell you – that was the easy bit, now the real hard work begins!