Point-to-point free-space optical systems have found a niche for outdoor point-to-point communications links. RiT Technologies (NASDAQ: RITT) believes a similar approach could work inside of buildings as well. The company has unveiled its Indoor Wireless Optical Network (IWON) product family, which it expects to make commercially available during the third quarter of 2013. The product line consists of a central transmitting station that could be installed either on a wall or ceiling of a work area, and small user stations that could be positioned up to 10 m away from the central station, either at individual desks or in the middle of a workspace for multiple users to share. The initial version of the central workstation will be capable of transmitting an aggregate of 10 Gbps that could be shared among eight user stations; the company has plans to increase the capacity to 100 Gbps. Four to eight users will be able to share a single user station. Communications between the central station and the user stations is bidirectional. In a conversation with Lightwave, RiT CTO Dr. Erez Ben Eshay acknowledged the obvious limitation of an IWON – the fact that someone could walk in front of a transmission beam. He said the beams, which are in the IR spectrum, are 16 µW and therefore eye-safe. Meanwhile, both the central and user stations have a buffering feature that would enable the appearance of uninterrupted communications provided the beam wasn’t blocked for an extended period of time. Counterbalancing this issue is the fact that an IWON will supply more data throughput and a higher degree of security than a conventional wireless LAN at a price commensurate with a Cat6 wired network, Dr. Ben Eshay asserted. The system will support both encryption and physical security, including shutting down links if users disconnect their PCs. It also will support security ports, VLANs, user groups, and more, according to Dr. Ben Eshay. Its ease of installation, particularly in comparison to wired networks with their associated switching panels, also will be appealing, he said. An IWON installation will benefit from an Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM) scheme that enables the system’s physical and logical network topology and devices to be detected and mapped automatically. IIM is part of RiT's CenterMind data center infrastructure management system. RiT took full ownership of the patent-pending technology this past July from Quartz Ltd. via a technology purchase agreement. Dr. Ben Eshay says the systems are now in beta tests, including within RiT’s offices. He expects RiT will begin accepting orders for IWON gear in the first half of next year.
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