February 16, 2015 1:00 pm JST
LEDs do the talking

Japanese parts trader Kaga to sell equipment for visible light communication

TOKYO -- Kaga Electronics, a Japanese trading company that deals in electronic components, is preparing to get into the market for visible light communication. This technology involves the use of LEDs to transmit data.

     The company intends to start by selling -- at home and abroad -- an adapter for PCs that will allow them to receive data from light-emitting diode lamps at high speed. Kaga expects visible light communication to be used in information and indoor positioning services at public and commercial facilities, such as department stores. In three years, the company aims to build up annual sales from the business to 5 billion yen ($41.6 million).

     In visible light communication, a control board connected to an LED lamp makes the light blink rapidly, transmitting data. An adapter, plugged into a PC's USB port, reads the blinking pattern to receive the data.

     Since existing LED lamps can be used, a visible light communication system can be built at a lower cost than comparable wireless systems. Data sent from LEDs can also be received through smartphone cameras, but this type of transmission is slow.

     Kaga's adapter, which looks like a USB flash drive, can receive more than 10 megabits of data per second.

     The company plans to sell products developed by Outstanding Technology, a Tokyo startup that makes communication devices, among other things.

     Kaga Electronics recently set up an in-house team to plan the new business. The company in mid-February opened a website to provide information about visible light communication.

     Down the road, Kaga intends to offer a wider range of products related to the field, including smartphone adapters, modules to be incorporated into equipment and undersea systems.

     U.S. research company MarketsandMarkets estimates the global market for such equipment will grow to about $9.3 billion by 2020.

(Nikkei)

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