On Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022 at Ed Munroe Seahurst Park, JP Hansen of Hansen Photonics Incorporated met with the Environmental Science Center’s director of community engagement, Katy Kachmarik, with a singular purpose – to demonstrate a new and potentially revolutionary communications technology developed he invented.

If the name John Paul “JP” Hansen sounds familiar, that’s because we first profiled the young inventor on The B-Town Blog in September, 2020 – read that article here.

The group made a long evening hike in overcast weather with several heavy packs to the middle of Seahurst park’s urban forest. There, HPI placed a compact, white lens assembly on one edge of a small stream valley, and carefully aimed it so it could be detected by a distant technician on the other side. The unassuming device in question may look like a small telescope to the casual observer, but is actually a gigabit-speed laser communications device designed to be safe, affordable and simple enough for anyone to use, with a communications range that could feasibly replace short-haul fiber infrastructure in the future.

The whole assembly came to life at the flip of a switch with a gentle humming, and the team dug in with intense concentration, making sure the invisible, infrared light beam could be detected as quickly as possible. After roughly 17 tense minutes, the team detected a strong signal on the other side of the valley – a success! The transmitter transmitted its signal, causing no ecological damage and eliminating the need to lay a fiber cable.

Whereas similar technology may cost tens of thousands of dollars to purchase, and even more to install, this exciting innovation costs less than a new laptop, runs at competitive speeds, and represents an elegant alternative to the multimillion dollar infrastructural fiber-laying operations currently underway in multiple parts of the state.

Typically, large-scale operations cause environmental harm both by digging, and by polluting nearby ecosystems. But this new lens assembly fits on a tripod, and makes connecting a new client to a source of gigabit internet as easy and ecologically harmless as pointing a flashlight.

HPI hopes to eventually open-source the technology so that more people can connect to high-speed internet over beams of light, and get approval to deploy it in an urban setting. When the technology scales, it could significantly benefit disadvantaged communities by allowing them to get internet access to their homes without needing to petition to begin a months-long infrastructural project.

Read more about JP Hansen and Hansen Photonics Inc., the small, family company located in Burien, here.

Below are photos from the demonstration, courtesy Hansen Photonics Inc.:

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