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Infrared Wireless Networking

Infrared has been around for a long time; perhaps our first experience with it was the TV remote. The commands entered onto the remote control travel over an infrared light wave to the receiver on the TV. Infrared technology has progressed, and today infrared development in networking is managed by the Infrared Data Association (IrDA).

Infrared wireless networking uses infrared beams to send data transmissions between devices. Infrared wireless networking offers higher transmission rates, reaching 10Mbps to 16Mbps.

As expected, infrared light beams cannot penetrate objects; therefore, the signal is disrupted when something blocks the light. Infrared can be either a directed (line-of-sight) or diffuse technology. A directed infrared system provides a limited range of approximately 3 feet and typically is used for personal area networks. Diffused infrared can travel farther and is more difficult to block with a signal object. Diffused infrared wireless LAN systems do not require line of sight, but usable distance is limited to room distances.

Infrared provides a secure, low-cost, convenient cable-replacement technology. It is well suited for many specific applications and environments. Some key infrared points are as follows:

  • It provides adequate speeds—up to 16Mbps.
  • Infrared devices use less power and therefore don’t drain batteries as much.
  • Infrared is a secure medium. Infrared signals typically are a direct-line implementation in a short range and therefore do not travel far outside the immediate connection. This eliminates the problem of eavesdropping or signal tampering.
  • Infrared is a proven technology. Infrared devices have been available for some time and as such are a proven, nonproprietary technology with an established user and support base.
  • It has no radio frequency interference issues or signal conflicts.
  • It replaces cables for many devices, such as keyboards, mice, and other peripherals.
  • It uses a dispersed mode or a direct line-of-sight transmission.
  • Transmissions travel over short distances.
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