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MM: Laser Lights That Provide Wi-Fi, And A Tablet For The Blind

In this episode we examine an affordable tablet for the visually-impaired and laser lights that provide W-Fi through visible light communication.

Laser Lights That Provide Wi-Fi

Factories always need the basics, such as lighting systems, to function, but they also increasingly rely on capabilities such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to keep up with advancing technology.

A new study from researchers at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Saudi Arabia suggests that the lighting itself could eventually provide those services.

Their research outlined a new method to produce visible-light communication.

VLC uses shorter wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum to transmit information more efficiently.

Current VLC systems rely on LEDs that generate white light but only allow data transmission at about one hundred million bits per second.

The new study used nanocrystals to simply and cost-effectively convert blue laser light into white light — while enabling two billion bits per second.

Engineers predicted that laser-based light would eventually replace LED bulbs for energy efficient lighting — which could mean that ceiling lights could be used to connect laptops, tablets or even machines to the internet.


Could this development help make factories more connected and more energy efficient?

Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below.

A Tablet Designed For The Blind

Current digital Braille technology has two main issues: the first is that it allows the user to read only one line at a time. Second, that technology is incredibly expensive, costing around $4,000 for a single-line reader.

That’s why engineers at the University of Michigan are looking to improve the technology altogether.

The new device would use a pneumatic “microfluid” display, which would create tiny bubbles that fill with either air or liquid and then pop up as Braille to create a tactile surface. Because of the face that it would be using either air or fluid, that would potentially cut down dramatically on the costs since it eliminates wiring or other mechanical assembly issues.

This approach could reduce the tablet’s cost down to $1,000 by the time it’s completed. It would also open up the possibilities of working with math and science in Braille, and users would also be able to interact with graphs and spreadsheets, making the tablet a whole lot more useful than a simple reading device.


What other applications could this technology be used for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

That’s all the time we have for today, but tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for your next Manufacturing Minute. 

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