Car passengers could soon be able to listen to music or watch films beamed through their overhead lighting following a breakthrough by Midlands scientists.
The work into optical wireless – where data signals travel through light – by the University of Warwick could also replace all wiring under the bonnet, leading to lighter-weight and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Optical wireless has been explored for use in aviation for some time but scientists at the University of Warwick’s Department of Engineering are leading the way globally in terms of its use in private vehicles.
Professor Roger Green said: “Optical wireless is relatively unknown at the moment.
“But it’s not hard to imagine a day when passengers can watch TV streamed through a beam coming from their overhead light, or when parts of the engine can ‘talk’ to each other without wires.
“We believe that this technology is poised to come into its own – not least because of the potential fuel savings to be gained from taking weight out of a car.
“Removing that weight could translate into lower fuel costs over the life of a vehicle.
“It is also cheap to install as it can use a simple LED light source which are being mass produced at the moment.
“And it has other benefits such as its lack of electromagnetic interference and the fact that, unlike the overcrowded radio spectrum which we use for much of our data communications, optical wireless is unlimited by the technical and regulatory bandwidth limitations which exist for radio signals.”
Their research was presented at the recent International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks held at the university.