Think of a time when the internet wasn’t a thing. Based on how ingrained the internet is into society today, most people probably won’t be able to. With the coming of LiFi, we probably won’t remember the time when our light bulbs weren’t our source of an internet connection. But the future is here – and that time will probably come sooner than later.
What is LiFi?
LiFi is a new technology that uses visible light as a medium for communication. Short for light fidelity, the term was introduced by Prof. Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh during his 2011 TED Talk “Wireless Data from Every Light Bulb.”
LiFi is a type of Visible Light Communications (VLC) technology. This technology creates a system for data transmission where visible light is used as a transfer medium. However, LiFi is slightly different because it is capable of transmitting data bidirectionally, which makes it an ideal choice for internet connectivity.
How Powerful is LiFi?
LiFi is poised to be a big differentiator in years to come, especially with 5G. Lab tests for LiFi show that data transfer speeds can reach up to 224 Gbps, which is 100 times faster than WiFi. With the visible light spectrum having 10,000 times more available frequencies than the radio spectrum, it frees up much-needed space to avoid the spectrum crunch.
How does LiFi Work?
LiFi, just like WiFi, is a bidirectional network. As a bidirectional network, it requires two main components, where both components act as transceivers that are capable of receiving and transmitting information. These components are the light source and the photodiode.
Data is fed to the light source through an attached chip, which embeds the data to the light that is then transmitted in the form of modulated light. The photodiode on the receiving device interprets the difference in the light signals as a series of 1s and 0s. The device processes this information and displays the embedded data into usable media such as images, audio, videos, or any other media. The photodiode then transmits data back to the light source, which completes the two-way transfer of data.
The light source used in LiFi systems is in the form of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Because it is a semi-conductor, the amount of current that passes through an LED bulb can be modulated to modify the intensity of the light it emits. But in LiFi systems, this process occurs at speeds imperceptible to the human eye.
What are the Advantages of LiFi?
Speed – Preliminary tests have shown that LiFi is capable of delivering speeds up to 224 Gbps.
Security – Localized connections due to visible light’s inability to penetrate walls limit the vulnerabilities of the system.
Versatility – Connections can be established just by using LED bulbs that are already installed in homes, which makes any room a potential LIFi hotspot.
Energy Efficiency – LEDs use less energy while lasting up to 50 times longer than ordinary bulbs, making them a greener choice.
Cost – Three factors make LiFi a more cost-efficient choice: (1) LEDs are inexpensive, (2) LEDs are already installed everywhere, and (3) LEDs are energy-efficient, which lessens operating cost.
LiFi and the Future: How does It Make an Impact?
LiFi is poised to make an immediate impact in smart homes and the Internet of Things. Smart devices at home will require a stable internet connection to function properly. However, vulnerabilities in the system could leave you at risk. Smart security systems, for example, can be hacked. But with localized LiFi connections, any vulnerabilities in your system are effectively eliminated.
The applications of LiFi outside the home are practically endless. Different industries and sectors of society can benefit from having a secure connection that doesn’t compromise health and safety such as hospitals, oil processing, the military, telecommunications, and even in transport.
LiFi is a revolutionary new technology that promises to make an immediate impact in the near future. It has potential applications across a plethora of sectors, including in healthcare, manufacturing, and the military. As it is now, the actual implementation of LiFi may be too expensive due to the lack of infrastructure. Instead, LiF will be a good complementary system for WiFi and is sure to change the world in the near future.
Jeroen van Gils is a digital entrepreneur and the founder of LiFi.co, a website dedicated to this exciting new technology.