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07.06.2015 / Technology

Five Cool Uses of Fiber-optics

You’ve heard how fiber is revolutionizing the Internet, but you’ve probably heard less about some of its other uses. While we’re obviously partial to using fiber-optics to provide Detroit with gigabit speed Internet, some of these other technologies are pretty cool!

  1. Fiber on the Runway

A recent high-tech fashion show in Silicon Valley (where else would it be?) featured fiber-optic dresses, 3-D printed clothing, and drone models. While most science fiction tells us that everyone in the future will wear grey jumpsuits, this fashion show painted a different picture. Their future is more like a sea of glowing fiber-infused clothing, brightly-colored 3D printed outfits, and wearable technology. We think we prefer this one!

  1. Real-feel Prosthetics

Researchers have made huge gains in the field of prosthetics, but with one major drawback: the user can’t feel what the arm is touching. That may change with the help of fiber-optic wiring—researchers are working on developing prosthetic limbs that the user can actually feel. By using fiber wiring to send pulses of light to the user’s neurons, the prosthetic limb will work similarly to a real one: sending information through the nervous system into the brain. While it’s still in the early stages, this could be a huge leap forward for prosthetics.

  1. Fiber-optic Art

Did you know people only spend about 30 seconds looking at each artwork in a museum? A German artist is changing that by weaving optical fibers into her charcoal and pastel drawings, creating pulsing patterns that engross viewers for hours. This is the only time you’ll ever hear of fiber-optics slowing people down! The artist, Lyn Godley, discovered that the art’s calming properties could be useful for healthcare and launched a Kickstarter campaign to attempt to fund it.

  1. Fiber-optic Cables that Can Hear

A technology company called Optasense has found a way to use fiber-optic cables to work like microphones, picking up even the tiniest sounds from up to ten meters away (almost 33 feet in our funky American units). Vibrations caused by sound create tiny fluctuations in the light sent down fiber-optic cables, which can then be measured. It’s so precise that they can distinguish between the sounds of different types of cars as well as footsteps and digging. They plan on using the technology to identify trespassers and vandals or to monitor fracking done by oil companies.

  1. Safer Lighting

You (hopefully) know that using electrical equipment, such as lighting, underwater is a big no-no. What you might not know is that fiber can be used to light areas that are normally hard to reach or dangerous to light, like pools. The fiber acts like a pipe for the light, allowing you to set up the light source away from the water so no one gets electrocuted! Because nothing ruins a pool party like an electrocution.

So fiber-optics are helping to stop intruders, giving amputees their hands back, and saving people from being electrocuted? It sounds more like a superhero than a way to bring Detroit 100 times faster Internet! Which, by the way, you can sign up for right here.  

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