As anyone who's tried to share a video file knows, it can take minutes to hours to transfer gigabit-size files over Wi-Fi or even using USB cables. Now, one group of scientists wants to reduce those transfer times to seconds, by sending data in the same way TV remote controls communicate with TVs.
The researchers have developed an infrared data transfer system that works at a speed of 1 gigabit per second. Like TV remotes, the tech doesn't require wires, but it does need a clear space between the two devices sharing the data. The system could wirelessly load a file from a video camera into a laptop, for example, or send a video saved on a computer to a tablet.
The new tech's speed is on par with Google's Fiber project, and is more than 100 times faster than the average household Internet speed in the U.S. It's six times faster than plugging a USB 2.0 cable between two devices to share a file.
"Our current infrared module has already demonstrated that infrared technology is able to go far beyond established standards," Frank Deicke, a light-wave researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany who is leading the research on infrared data transfer technology, said in a statement.
Deicke and his team built both software and hardware to get to 1 Gbps wireless speeds. They developed a small transceiver that sends and receives infrared laser light, or focused light waves with wavelengths just longer than red light. They also wrote computer programs that correct for the distortions infrared waves undergo as they move through the air.
Deicke is working now to make infrared wireless even faster. He has shown that theoretically, his tech is able to work at 3 Gbps. His ultimate goal is 10 Gbps, he said.
The major hurdle Deicke and his team will have to clear, however, isn't a technological one, Fraunhofer said. Before people's laptops and cameras will be able to zip data to one another over infrared waves, researchers will need to convince manufacturers to put Deicke's tech into their devices.
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