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Optical vs. Radio - What is the difference when using ESLs?

Optical vs. Radio - What is the difference when using ESLs?


Optical wireless communication and radio communication have a lot in common (both are electromagnetic radiation), but there are a few physical differences! Read all about it here.

The main difference is that our optical spectrum (880 nm) is almost noise-free. Radio systems suffer from interference with other signals, other WiFi networks and devices. The radio frequencies most commonly used are the 868MHz and 2,4GHz bands, which are extremely crowded. A transmission that works the first time might be disrupted next time.

The radio frequency pollution will not go away in the future – it will actually become even worse. Optical wireless communication is therefore more stable, more reliable, more robust and more future-proof.

No need for line of sight!

Our optical solution is designed to communicate with reflected, diffused light. You obviously do not need line of sight, and we have no problem with “radio blocking obstacles” like metal shelving, people or dog food.

Noise-free communication

Optical communication can coexist with current and future radio systems like Wi-Fi and mobile networks (3G, 4G & 5G, alarm systems, Bluetooth, etc. ) without disturbing or blocking transmissions. This means it is completely free from communication pollution.

No multi-path interference

Optical wireless communication does not suffer from multipath interference, which causes that blind spots and unreliable communication that are common in a radio frequency system.

A modern radio frequency system tries to reduce the problem by using antenna diversity and frequency hopping, but it is impossible to completely remove these faults, especially when the radio frequency spectrum has lots of noise.

Optical wireless communication is extremely power-efficient


Enables high bandwidth

Optical wireless communication enables high bandwidth. The communication speed of a radio frequency system is severely reduced due to re-transmissions and lost packages.

This is worsened by an increasing amount of data due to high-resolution displays and the introduction of red color. This is not something that happens with optical, where the transmission success is 98%.

Super power-efficient

Since optical wireless communication is more power-efficient, it allows us to design a much more responsive system.

A Pricer label is checking communication every second, while a radio frequency label needs to sleep between 15 seconds up to several minutes. This makes services like click and collect impossible to implement. This is why we also offer sub-second flash with no battery reduction.



Dynamic product positioning

The optical access points provide the unique feature of automatic/dynamic product positioning with very fine granularity.

Read more about dynamic product positioning here.