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Fraunhofer develops extra-small 1Gbps infrared transceiver, recalls our PDA glory days

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Our 1997-era selves would die with envy right about now. Fraunhofer has developed a new generation of infrared transceiver that can transfer data at 1Gbps, or well above anything that our vintage PDAs could manage. While the speed is nothing new by itself -- we saw such rates in 2010 Penn State experiments -- it's the size that makes the difference. The laser diode and processing are efficient enough to fit into a small module whose transceiver is as large as a "child's fingernail." In theory, the advancement makes infrared once more viable for mobile device syncing, with room to grow: even the current technology can scale to 3Gbps, lead researcher Frank Deicke says, and it might jump to 10Gbps with enough work. Along with the usual refinements, most of the challenge in getting production hardware rests in persuading the Infrared Data Association to adopt Deicke's work as a standard. If that ever comes to pass, we may just break out our PalmPilot's infrared adapter to try it for old time's sake.

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