Optical Communications: Lighting our Way to Development

In the last decade, we have witnessed one of the most significant technology revolutions in human history. Telecommunications, particularly mobile telephony, has transformed several nations that have long been languishing at the bottom of the development pyramid. As per GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), there are over 5 billion mobile connections in the developing world today increasing at the rate of 17 per second! Mobiles have literally reached communities “where no man has gone before”, either due to the absence of roads or on account of other socio-cultural distances that were hard to bridge. In developing countries like India, there are more people with mobile phones today than with a bank account. Thanks to mobile communications, services such as healthcare, financial services and education will eventually become available to these billions of people.

However, while the role of wireless technologies is widely recognized, and terms like “2G/3G/4G/GSM/CDMA/LTE” have now entered common parlance, the importance of light-based technologies in sparking the mobile economy has surprisingly gone unnoticed.

Optical Communication enables Global Connectivity. Credits: ECOC 2011.

Optical Communication enables Global Connectivity. Credits: ECOC 2011.

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Urban Lighting Improvement of Guangzhou

Bordering the South China Sea, Guangzhou is the first export seaport in China and the beginning of the Maritime Silkroad.  Being the capital of Guangdong Province, it is one of the center cities in China together with Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing.  Situated in the central part of Guangdong, it is the heart of the Pearl River Delta, as well as the southern gateway to China.  Pearl River is the third longest river in China, also the main river across Guangzhou, presenting the historical and traditional change, and business development over thousand years.

The improvement of urban lighting in Guangzhou along Pearl River is 18-kilometer-long, from White Swan Lagoon to Haixinsha Island, the Opening Ceremony Hub of 2010 Asian Games, from Canton Tower to Pazhou Bridge.  This project replaces all the spotlights and floodlights with LED lamps, it also adjusts the lightening duration at night from 7pm to 10.30pm (3.5 hours) in winter and spring, and 7:30pm to 10.30pm (3 hours) in summer and autumn. The design concept is to highlight the outline structure of the buildings, use LED lamp and launch remote-control system to operate the lighting during holidays and festivals. We also re-designed the lighting for 12 bridges over the river.  During the 2010 Asian Games, the athletes sailed from White Swan Lagoon towards Haixinsha Island, enjoying the beautiful landscape and lighting of Pearl River.

Pearl River Lighting - Festival Mode. Credits: AALD

Pearl River Lighting – Festival Mode. Credits: AALD

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The Speed of Light

The speed of light in a vacuum is one of the most important constants in physical science. It plays a leading role in the development of physical theories and speculation concerning the nature of the universe and, as the ratio of the electromagnetic and electrostatic units, it is a vital link in the development of electromagnetic theory and practice. The speed of light has also become of great practical importance in the fields of navigation and surveying since distance may be obtained from the time of flight of a pulse of light or radio waves.

Apparatus for measuring the speed of light using the cavity resonator technique (1950). Credits National Physical Laboratory.

Apparatus for measuring the speed of light using the cavity resonator technique (1950). Credits National Physical Laboratory.

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4th Worldwide Light Painting Exhibition on the IYL2015 Opening Ceremony

With all the advancements in technology one wonders what impact this has had on the creative arts. Light painting is one example of an art form born in the technological age. Light painters are able to create imaginative photographs by manipulating the amount and quality of light in a physical environment, by illuminating or creating effects using different light sources, which are then captured by a camera using a long exposure.

Left image: Light is Life. Credits: HoryMa. Right image: Light is Joy. Credits: Miedza LightArt Photography.

Left image: Light is Life. Credits: HoryMa. Right image: Light is Joy. Credits: Miedza LightArt Photography.

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‘Light Library’ brightens education for children in rural Senegal

Students in 58 rural schools in Senegal were recently introduced to a brighter kind of library — a library of solar lights – thanks to an innovative Light Library campaign for schools located in off-grid communities from SolarAid, a London-based international charity that provides renewable energy solutions for poverty and addressing climate change.

Designed and delivered by SunnyMoney, a social enterprise from SolarAid, in partnership with the Senegalese Rural Electrification Agency (ASER), the Light Library Project allows students to borrow solar lanterns from a library of solar lights.

Student at Kabe Mbengue school, Kaffrine, Senegal, using a solar lantern. Credits: Kat Harrison/SolarAid.

Student at Kabe Mbengue school, Kaffrine, Senegal, using a solar lantern. Credits: Kat Harrison/SolarAid.

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