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Modular Platform for Optical Wireless Communication Research

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and University of Tulsa in the United States were tasked with the difficult challenge of building a lightweight and modular optical wireless communication technology to support mobile communications from small multirotor drones. Their novel design based on the wired-mesh architecture, around which Hexabitz backend is built, proved a scablable and modular solution to construct both directional (flat) and omnni-directional (spherical) optical wireless communication terminals that provide wide point-of-view and facilitate mobility. The compactness and lightweight of these modules enabled the research team to build an optical communication terminal that weighs less than 75 grams with 37 optical pixels in 300 cm^2 combined field-of-view.

Programmable MCUs available in each module were utilized to synchronously sample the environment, and then route measurements to the user through a dedicated electrical backbone built with efficient DMA streams. A combination of complex DMA streams and software mastery allowed sub-micro second synchronization across the array. These modular arrays proved inexpensive and easy to construct for both education and research and prototyping projects. They also provided homogeneous/inhomogeneous optical properties by varying the module front-end functionality. Applications for such modular arrays include remote sensing, motion detection, optical navigation, and medical imaging, among others. 

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