Plastic Optical Fiber in Home Automation

A speed breakthrough in Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) could eventually cut structured wiring costs.

Plastic Optical Fiber

Researchers at Siemens sent a 1 Gbit/s signal via plastic optical fiber wiring. Photo: (c) Siemens AG

Siemens research findings on plastic optical fiber (POF) show great promise for the world of home automation. A Siemens lab successfully sent an IPTV signal at 1 Gbit/s, a significant transmission rate.

POF is an alternative to copper wire and the widely used glass fiber, which is more expensive to work with. POF has been limited in use due to a high “attenuation,” or loss in signal amplitude over longer distances.

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Siemens’ research test was done over 100 meters without data compromise, indicating that the time for POF in wider application may soon come. This can include home automation/networking wiring.

Since POF is easier and cheaper to work with (glass fiber requires particular methods to splice fibers and connect to devices and equipment), one could hope that reliable POF technology used/installed for home automation or home networking purposes could come at a lower cost. Fiber optics is a consideration many homeowners have to make when thinking about structured wiring, particularly homeowners who are building new. The higher cost to install glass fiber optics (as compared to say Ethernet/Cat 5) serves as a deterrent. A reliable, fast, cheaper option would certainly be welcomed.

Ben HardyBetween watching re-runs of the “The Jetsons” and convincing his Insteon and Z-Wave controls to get along, Ben Hardy is immersed in the world of home automation, home control, and home networking.


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