“li-fi” 10-gigabit data speeds using LEDs.

li_fi.1I have always been fascinated with the way information travels and now coming across this article I am even more so! It is times like now that I wonder what the world will look like in 20 years and I hope it will be as awesome as in my imagination!

A group of UK-based researchers just had a breakthrough in their attempt to develop “visual light communication,” a way to transfer data wirelessly over the internet using light bulbs. They announced data transfer speeds of more than 10 gigabits — about 10 times faster than a Google Fiber connection —using tiny LEDs that rapidly blink on and off to communicate in binary. The researchers used red, green, and blue micro-LEDs — the colors that make up white light — simultaneously, increasing the amount of information being transferred. The LED bulbs, developed at the University of Strathclyde, allow streams of light to be beamed in parallel, reports the BBC. Each beam carries a separate data stream, each one encoded using digital modulation—Orthogonal Frequency Divisional Multiplexing—to produce millions of changes in light intensity per second. It’s like hitting the on-off switch very, very fast to transfer binary data.

Dr. Harald Haas, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, coined the term “li-fi” and worked on the project that produced the record-breaking speeds. He notes that while radio-based wireless connectivity relies on base stations, the infrastructure for light-based connectivity already exists. “The idea is that of this double function,” he says. “A light bulb is not just a light spending unit. It’s now a wireless transceiver, light-producing unit, communications device, or a li-fi access point.”

The connection depends on the light traveling from the LEDs to a receiver, but doesn’t require a line of sight —the light can bounce off walls and still be effective. The connection can’t penetrate through walls, which would seem to limit its applicability. However, scientists say this limitation could actually be a benefit for security, since wide-ranging Wi-Fi connections can be vulnerable to hackers.

Can a toy robot teach kids computer programming?

I know nothing about programming and my mind is equivalent to that of a 5 year old (well not as sharp…) so I think this article is targeted to me. I am so tempted to buy Yana and Bo!

Vikas Gupta set out to create a compelling way for children as young as four or five to start learning basic coding concepts. The result was Play-I, a new startup business building robots that, it hopes, will teach children about programming through play. “Thinking back on my own life, I began learning computer science at 14. I couldn’t imagine absorbing those programming concepts, at least the way I was taught them, at an early age,” says Gupta, who serves as Play-i’s CEO. “But research from MIT and Tufts showed pre-schoolers can grasp programming concepts, most just don’t have the right tools or framework provided to them.”

The team at Play-i decided to avoid abstract concepts and the traditional focus on written code and syntax that are the core elements of most common programming languages today. Kids interact with Play-i’s robots, Yana and Bo, by giving them instructions. This can be through a tablet or smartphone, where they can drag and drop a sequence of commands. “As they do this, we can begin to introduce some other basic elements of coding, like the concept of loops, or an ‘if this than that’ instruction,” says Gupta.

It remains to be seen whether or not kids who play with these robots will actually show better programming skills than their peers. Yana and Bo are based on academic research; they haven’t been proven in the field. “We are crafting a new language that we hope will open up this world to children,” says Gupta. The key, Gupta believes, is making sure children can follow their curiosity as far as it leads them.

Kids who wonder how a command works can actually look into the code behind it and learn how to create their own versions. Play-i says its robots will work with drag-and-drop programming languages like Scratch and Blockly, basic ones like C, and even more difficult languages like Python. “We hope Yana and Bo set them down the path to a lifetime of programming,” says Gupta. “And we plan to provide them any tools they might need along the way.”