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IrDA

In 1993 the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) was founded to establish a common standard for infrared
data communication. In 1994 the IrDA 1.0 standard was published which allowed a maximum data
communication rate of 115 kBit/s. Because of this low data rate, the IrDA group announced IrDA 1.1
(Fast Infrared) in 1995 and VFIR (Very Fast Infrared) in 1999. IrDA 1.1 offers a data rate of 4 MBit/s
and VFIR even of 16 MBit. Infrared (IR) communication is a popular and cheap way to transmit data
without cables and wires. However, there is quite a difference between IR communication and radiobased communication. IR communication is based on infrared light, which needs a direct line of sight
between the sender and the receiver. Due to the fact that the daylight contains parts of the infrared
spectrum IR communication can be interrupted or blocked. While radio-based transmissions can
permeate objects like walls, doors or clothes, IR transmissions are entirely blocked by such objects. The
IR communication range is limited to a few meters whereas the radio-based communication ranges,
generally, are higher (e.g. radio based WLAN with 100mW transmission power is limited to 100
meters). The limited communication range and the need for a direct line of sight between sender and
receiver offers more privacy than radio-based networks. IR-based communication that is performed
within a few meters is hard to intercept from outside. All modern operating systems support the IrDA
standard and many mobile devices offer infrared ports. The IrDA standard is based on two substandards:

IrDA Data: This substandard is responsible for data transmissions over infrared connections.

IrDA Control: This substandard defines how input devices like keyboards, mice or joysticks can
send control information over an infrared connection.

Fig. 8 shows the IrDA protocol stack. At the bottom of the stack there is the infrared bit transport layer,
which manages the encoding of data bits in infrared signals. The IrLAP layer (Infrared Link Access
Protocol) is responsible for a reliable connection between sender and receiver. While the IrLAP layer
supports only a single reliable channel, the IrLMP layer (Infrared Link Management Protocol) can
manage multiple logical channels on a single physical connection. The IAS layer (Information Access
Service) allows the discovery of services that are offered by other devices.

The other protocol layers are optional


and not necessarily implemented within every IrDA device. The Tiny TP layer (Tiny Transport Protocol)
provides the possibility to transmit bigger messages through segmentation. IrLAN layer (Infrared Local
Area Network) offers a bridge for connecting to a LAN. IrOBEX (Infrared Object Exchange Protocol)
enables the exchange of complex messages such as v-cards, which is a protocol for the exchange of
business cards. IrCOMM emulates a standard serial communication, which enables applications to
communicate through a serial port.

Specifications
IrPHY
The mandatory IrPHY (Infrared Physical Layer Specification) is the physical layer of the IrDA
specifications. It comprises optical link definitions, modulation, coding, cyclic redundancy check (CRC)
and the framer. Different data rates use different modulation/coding schemes:
Some important characteristics are:
Range: standard: 1 m; low power to low power: 0.2 m; standard to low power: 0.3 m, The 10 GigaIR
also define new usage models that supports higher link distances up to several meters.
Angle: minimum cone 15
Speed: 2.4 kbit/s to 1 Gbit/s
Modulation: baseband, no carrier
Infrared window
Wavelength: 850900 nm
The frame size depends on the data rate mostly and varies between 64 byte and 64 kbyte. Additionally
bigger blocks of data can be transferred by sending multiple frames consecutively. This can be adjusted
with a parameter called Window Size (1127). Finally data blocks up to 8 Mbyte can be sent at once.
Combined with a low bit error rate of generally <10 -9, that communication could be very efficient
compared to other wireless solutions.
IrDA transceivers communicate with infrared pulses (samples) in a cone that extends minimum 15
degrees half angle off center. The IrDA physical specifications require that a minimum irradiance be
maintained so that a signal is visible up to a meter away. Similarly, the specifications require that a
maximum irradiance not be exceeded so that a receiver is not overwhelmed with brightness when a
device comes close. In practice, there are some devices on the market that do not reach one meter, while
other devices may reach up to several meters.
IrDA data communications operate in half-duplex mode because while transmitting, a devices receiver
is blinded by the light of its own transmitter, and thus, full-duplex communication is not feasible.
IrLAP
The mandatory IrLAP (Infrared Link Access Protocol) is the second layer of the IrDA specifications.
It lies on top of the IrPHY layer and below the IrLMP layer. It represents the Data Link Layer of the OSI
model. The most important specifications are:

Access control
Discovery of potential communication partners
Establishing of a reliable bidirectional connection
Distribution of the Primary/Secondary device roles
Negotiation of QoS Parameters

On the IrLAP layer the communicating devices are divided into a Primary Device and one or more
Secondary Devices. The Primary Device controls the Secondary Devices. Only if the Primary Device
requests a Secondary Device to send is it allowed to do so.

IrLMP
The mandatory IrLMP (Infrared Link Management Protocol) is the third layer of the IrDA
specifications. It can be broken down into two parts. First, the LM-MUX (Link Management
Multiplexer) which lies on top of the IrLAP layer. Its most important achievements are:
Provides multiple logical channels
Allows change of Primary/Secondary devices
Second, the LM-IAS (Link Management Information Access Service), which provides a list,
where service
providers can register their services so other devices can access these services via querying the
LM-IAS.
Tiny TP
The optional Tiny TP (Tiny Transport Protocol) lies on top of the IrLMP layer.
It provides:Transportation of large messages by SAR (Segmentation and Reassembly)
Flow control by giving credits to every logical channel

IrCOMM
The optional IrCOMM (Infrared Communications Protocol) lets the infrared device act like either a
serial or parallel port. It lies on top of the IrLMP layer.

OBEX
The optional OBEX (Object Exchange) provides the exchange of arbitrary data objects (e.g., vCard,
vCalendar or even applications) between infrared devices. It lies on top of the Tiny TP protocol, so Tiny
TP is mandatory for OBEX to work.

IrLAN
The optional IrLAN (Infrared Local Area Network) provides the possibility to connect an infrared
device to a local area network. There are three possible methods:
Access Point
Peer to Peer
Hosted
As IrLAN lies on top of the Tiny TP protocol, the Tiny TP protocol must be implemented for IrLAN to
work.