A new product called Beamcaster distributes beams of light to create wireless networks, providing an alternative or supplement to Wi-Fi and eliminating much of the cabling used to connect office workers to the Internet and corporate networks.
RiT Wireless, the makers of Beamcaster, demonstrated the technology this week at the Interop networking conference in Las Vegas. A Beamcaster “optical distribution unit” is mounted on a ceiling, distributing invisible beams of light to eight “smart outlets.” (You might call them “frickin’ laser beams.”) In a typical setup, the smart outlets could be placed on top of a cubicle wall and hook up to PCs via Ethernet, giving workers’ access to the Internet and corporate networks. Connecting those smart outlets to standard switches would increase the number of PCs each smart outlet could connect to.
This setup reveals an obvious limitation—smartphones and tablets typically don’t have Ethernet ports. However, a Beamcaster smart outlet can connect to a Wi-Fi router, distributing the signal to Wi-Fi-capable devices. Future versions of the smart outlet will have 802.11ac Wi-Fi built in, RiT Wireless CTO Erez Ben Eshay told me at the Beamcaster booth yesterday.
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