The St. Cloud, Minn., school district is paying $19.95 a month for a new wireless service — and the right to be the first customer for something that some people say will be huge, reports the St. Cloud Times. The laptop computer sitting on the table in the St. Cloud superintendent’s office looks like any other. But its wireless internet access is a bit different. A chip in an LED light above is carrying the signals rather than a radio wave.
The use of light to carry communications is creating a buzz among local leaders who have seen it. Its inventor, St. Cloud resident John Pederson, says visible-light embedded wireless data communication is the next step in the evolution of wireless communications, one that will expand the possibilities in phone and computer use. The connection provides internet access with almost no wiring, better security, and with speeds more than eight times faster than cable, he says. "I believe, if he is successful, he can revolutionize technology like we haven’t seen before," said Micah Meyers, information technology coordinator for the city of St. Cloud. If it works out as Pederson plans, his project would replace the need for fiber optic wires that run underground and in buildings. Cell phones and laptops could be used on airplanes, because this wireless technology would not interfere with navigation systems. And because light does not travel through walls, cell phones and government and banking information would be more secure. Meyers said there are some things that still need to be worked out, including interference from other light sources. But school officials see visible-light embedded communications technology as a big money-saver. It now costs St. Cloud schools $300 per room to hook up internet access. The LVX System, as it is called, requires just the plug-in for the box that catches the signal from the chip in the LED light and sends it into the computer. The box is slightly bigger than a deck of cards. It’s still in its early stages, and Pederson is looking for businesses or schools that want to install it and allow Pederson to test it and work out the kinks. Right now, the only connection is in Jordahl’s space at the district administration offices…

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