Unpopular wireless technologies: infrared networking

Since the dawn of the wireless technology, people moved on adapting to wireless technology leaving behind the cable mess that used to be there. Many of these wireless technology run on some industry set wireless standard. Most widely used wireless technology is the Wi-Fi and Cellular network. There are also some other wireless standards.

The idea of wireless technologies

There are lot more wireless technologies been invented and still on the process than we can list here. All of them have their own set of standards. Although not all of them are as popular and widely used as Wi-Fi. There are lot of smaller computer networks which use infrared, Bluetooth to establish connection between devices.

There are mobile devices such as – smartphones, wearables, tablets, directly connect to wireless through cellular networks. They sometimes use other standards to establish connection between each other as well such as technologies like modern car stereos, GPS devices, smart televisions, flying drones and countless other new wireless technologies.

Infrared Wireless Networking

Infrared wireless networking used to be very popular and modern but over time of course it is not thus widely used other than the use case where it really shines. That case is usually when you have older devices that supports infrared and only way to establish connection between two other same old devices. It could be phone or laptops of late 1990s and early and mid 2000s.

Infrared networking uses a protocol called Infrared Data Association (IrDA) to establish the communication. Every version of Windows, Linux, Apple OS and almost all of the computing industry support the IrDA protocol stack as the industry standard.

Capacity of infrared networks

In terms of speed and range, infrared is certainly not one of the most impressive one comparing to what we have now. Infrared devices were capable of transferring data of up to 4 Mbps. Distance between the devices needed to be maximum of 1 meter. Infrared links are direct point-to-point line-of-sight and more susceptible to interference. If there is anything that would break the beam of light immediately disrupts the link. Even if you had placed a can of beverage, anyone passing between the link or even a brighter sunlight gliding on the transceiver could disrupt the link and cause interference.

Infrared was designed to make absolutely on point-to-point connection between two devices using only ad hoc mode. No infrastructure mode is available. You can still however, use an infrared access point to enable an Ethernet network communication using IrDA. Infrared devices operate at half-duplex. Meaning while one is speaking other would only listen, they can not talk and listen at the same time. IrDA has a mode that allows it to emulate the full-duplex communication but in practice it is still really a half-duplex.

Infrared network safety

When it comes down to security, like encryption and authentication, IrDA provide nothing of such. Besides, you would not worry much about IrDA security since anybody communicates with your device is within your reach.

Obviously, the age we are living in infrared is no where near the optimal solution for a dedicated network connection. Still, for a quick file transfer or print out tasks without much hassle may come in handy. It will do those little tasks just fine. The bottom line of infrared is, its specification worth knowing for extended knowledge about networking.

Infrared’s max throughput is up to 4 Mbps. Max range is 1 meter and 39 inches. Its security is, none at all other than you know who establishes connection with your device.

Compatibility is only IrDA protocol. Communication mode is point-to-point ad hoc.