The modern world revolves around fast, voluminous, and reliable communications. To accommodate the brave but not-so-new world of the interconnected, engineers have been working hard to cram ever larger numbers of bits down the pipes. Of course, for really high data rate connections, this means fiber optic cables and optically encoded data streams. Unfortunately, current encoding methods are very inefficient, so those big fat pipes are actually nearly empty.
More efficient encoding methods exist, of course, but they are difficult to apply in a light-based system. A recent Nature Photonics paper seems to point the way forward with a relatively simple encoding and decoding scheme.