Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

November 3, 2013

ED VASICEK: Invention competition in downtown Kokomo

'Li-Fi' Web signals vs. hybrid capacitors

I met Elmer for lunch downtown at Subway. We were chatting about all the changes here in Kokomo. We had just passed the Kokomantis, and the Subway location itself was new.

First Farmers Bank was buying the Armstrong-Landon Building. Ivy Tech Community College — already partly relocated at the former Johanning Center — was leasing much of that building. The new parking garage with condos on top is in the works. The library was expanding. The new YMCA will become a new landmark. Banners for the IU Kokomo Cougars advertised the school’s expanding vision, and so will the new apartments near IUK (and essentially serve as dormitories). New senior citizen and veteran housing is on the way — and a host of new small businesses have surfaced. Even pessimistic Elmer agreed Kokomo is on the move.

“Hi, Emil — we’re over here!” Elmer signaled to his brother. Emil joined us at the table; we had already picked up his favorite sub.

“Well, I have my article, guys. Ed, do you have yours?” Emil inquired.

Elmer had volunteered to serve as judge to decide which of us had found the better article about important inventions in recent news. The loser had to pay for the meal.

“Yep, it’s my turn to go first. Here is my article from a website called Quartz. It is about something called ‘Li-Fi,’ sending Internet signals over light.”

“‘Current wireless networks have a problem: The more popular they become, the slower they are. Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai have just become the latest to demonstrate a technology that transmits data as light instead of radio waves, which gets around the congestion issue and could be ten times faster than traditional Wi-Fi.

“‘In dense urban areas, the range within which Wi-Fi signals are transmitted is increasingly crowded with noise — mostly, other Wi-Fi signals. What’s more, the physics of electromagnetic waves sets an upper limit to the bandwidth of traditional Wi-Fi. The short version: you can only transmit so much data at a given frequency. The lower the frequency of the wave, the less it can transmit.

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