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With an inviting smile, Zvika Eitan, RAD Fiber Optics Team Leader, sits in his office surrounded by his lab materials. Amidst the busyness of hallway renovations, Zvika is unfazed, rather, he welcomes the workspace upgrades and goes with the flow. In fact, positivity and interest in progress are his assets, which is how he garnered five patents to his name, earned under RAD's wing.
Each patent has a story from Zvika. Here is his story of the BiDi Dual-to-Single Fiber QSFP28 Adaptor.
Creativity In Its Time
Before single fiber optics became a thing, I myself wondered if it might be possible for a small circulator, which typically used a dual fiber to connect, to connect instead via a single fiber, passively (meaning, non-electronically). Such a BiDi (bidirectional) fiber optic setup could save organizations on fiber resources and make it easy to maximize the utilization of existing fiber. At the time, this was a novel idea, and it sounded good.
My managers at RAD encouraged me. "Go for it, Zvika," they said. I’m grateful to say they were stunned by the results. It worked, with no electronic devices, and no battery. We tested the solution on 10-km fibers, 40-km fibers, and at any bit rate. It didn’t matter – light travels without end, and with no bandwidth limitations.
With these results, RAD approached a large telecom corporation – who was astounded – yet ultimately didn’t see a strong enough need for it. After all, who cared about saving on fibers then? The market wasn’t ready. The idea was dropped. I stored this little device in a matchbox, and literally shelved it.
Fast forward to 2019. Japan was preparing to host the Summer Olympics in 2020, and RAD was a contender for scaling up the mobile communications infrastructure of a major local communication service provider. By that time single fiber connectivity had become more commonplace, yet companies were offering it at an astronomical price the Olympic organizers were unwilling to consider. Meanwhile, someone at RAD happened to remember, "Hey, Zvika, didn’t you once develop an affordable solution that could cut fiber usage in half?"
I smiled, went to the shelf, and took down the matchbox. By then, bidirectional single fiber SFPs were already available in the market, but only for speeds of 1G and 10G. 100G connectivity at the edge, however, wasn’t yet a requirement. The market still wasn’t ready. Again, the idea was dropped.
Until 2021. A new review of my innovations took place, and this time, the idea went even further: create a clip on the BiDi adapter that is small enough not to extend further than the release lever. This innovation was granted a patent for its mechanics and was deemed market-worthy. This time, the market was ready. More and more organizations need 100G at the edge. Now, people see the need to save on fiber infrastructure. With the RAD BiDi saving them 50% and supporting high fiber rates, with no need for extra space or power source, customer interest is very high.
I credit my wife - an industrial designer trained at the renowned Bezalel Art School - for my creativity. She inspired me to think about innovation as breaking through wall after wall until we can truly know whether an idea is viable. I’ve been encouraged and supported by RAD all these years, allowing me to break through many walls to be innovative. In this case, the wall wasn’t my own – it was the market’s. Eventually the market wall came down too.
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