PORT HUENEME, Calif. - An invention that uses light to
transmit data may allow the Navy to increase the security of classified
Matthew Sheehan, a Research and Development system
engineer at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division's (NSWC PHD)
Office of Engineering and Technology, is the recipient of a rare first action
allowance and patent award by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for his
method and system of one-way data transmission from an open network to a closed
"My invention, which is called a Light Information
Transmitting Optical System, or LITOS, utilizes the transmission of data by way
of visible light communication via free space optics," said Sheehan.
"In other words, it's like communicating over fiber optics without the
fiber. This invention ensures the ability to get message traffic from point A
to point B in a safe and reliable manner.
More specifically, the system allows communicating from the low or
unclassified side, such as from NMCI, to the high or classified side, like the
SIPR network, or basically the ability for less secure systems to talk to more
This new invention ensures data can be sent correctly in
a fast, efficient and reliable manner.
"While difficult to visualize, this invention
supports something the Navy calls an air gap or an actual gap around a network
that allows it to stand alone with a gap or free space separating it from other
systems," Sheehan said. "My
invention preserves that gap with something called free space optics, which is
another term for light that's propagated through the air. Think of a lighthouse as propagating light
through the air. My invention is the
same principle utilizing free space optics or light to transmit data from one
location to another."
LITOS lays the groundwork for longer distance, higher
speed communications without the constraints of wires to transmit information
"This new capability can be put into place quickly
and will result in significant cost savings compared to more traditional
systems," Sheehan said. "And
the capability provided by LITOS will be faster, cheaper and more secure than
According to Chris Monsey, the intellectual property and
government acquisition attorney who assisted Sheehan in the patent process,
"This first action allowance as well as the subject matter on
cybersecurity is an indication that this patent is worthy of particular
attention both for tech transfer but, more importantly, for the Navy as it
shows that the capability this system can provide represents state-of-the-art
for this cybersecurity capability."
Monsey said the fact that the patent application was able
to survive an increasingly stringent process with the Patent Office underlines
the quality of both the invention and quality of the patent-drafting effort to
which Sheehan contributed.
"Based on my experience both in the government and
in private practice, I find that the Navy has some of the very best innovators
anywhere. As shown by this first action
allowance, Matt is certainly in that league," said Monsey.
NSWC Port Hueneme is a field activity of Naval Sea
Systems Command and provides the U.S. Navy with weapon system in-service
engineering, logistics and test and evaluation. NSWC Port Hueneme is located at
Naval Base Ventura County, Calif. where it employs more than 1,900 personnel.