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Let There Be Li-Fi: Bringing Connectivity Through LED


Move over Wi-Fi because there's a new wireless wonder in town (or rather the air), and it goes by the name of Li-Fi. Li-Fi is a wireless optical networking technology that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for data transmission. 

The Birth of Li-Fi

Developed by Professor Harald Haas at the University of Edinburgh, Li-Fi (a term coined by Haas) was conceived as a result of the disenchantment and dissolution Haas had towards radio as a data transmission tool (the Wi-Fi model). Haas went on to develop a digital signal processing system to modulate the output of LED light bulbs at a rate faster than the human brain can detect, to send data signals. Simply put, he developed connectivity through light.

With Li-Fi, you can connect to the internet simply by being within range of an LED beam. The sheer potential of this technology is huge; especially when you consider how widespread and accessible the internet is.

According to an article posted in The Independent, UK scientists have been ‘reporting transmission speeds of 10Gbit/s - more than 250 times faster than superfast broadband.' Many experts believe that Li-Fi represents the future of mobile internet; no wonder when it is clocking up sonic speeds like that. Not only is Li-Fi superfast but compared to its Wi-Fi cousin, it's also cheaper and far more efficient.

How Li-Fi Works?

Both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi transmits data over the electromagnetic spectrum, but whilst Wi-Fi utilises radio waves, Li-Fi uses visible light. The power of visible light trumps that of radio waves a staggering 10,000 times over, which means you can achieve far greater data density.

Li-Fi signals work by switching bulbs on and off incredibly quickly - too quickly to be noticed by the human eye. It is also possible to convert existing LED light bulbs to transmit Li-Fi signals with a single microchip. Simple, but incredibly efficient.

Applications of Li-Fi?

Li-Fi goes far beyond generic Wi-Fi capabilities; developers are already looking at ways to integrate the technology with traffic lights and vehicles in a bid to prevent accidents. In addition to this, a number of other industries are keen to harness the power of Li-Fi. These include:

  • Medical
  • Retail
  • Educational - schools, universities, etc.
  • Aviation

The Benefits of Li-Fi?

  • Capable of producing higher speeds than current the Wi-Fi outputs
  • More secure because data cannot be intercepted without a clear line of sight
  • Eliminates neighbouring network interference
  • Unimpeded by radio interference
  • Could facilitate a much cheaper incarnation of broadband, accessible to people with tighter budgets and those living in less connected areas
  • Offers far greater coverage throughout a building compared to that of a single Wi-Fi router

The Downsides of Li-Fi?

  • Li-Fi requires a clean line of sight
  • Cannot penetrate walls, so if you want to move from one room to another, you will need to have a wired bulb present in that room as well

For all of Li-Fi's minor technological flaws, it has twice as many positives shining through. Li-Fi looks set to totally redefine connectivity as we know it, ushering in a new and exciting age of delightful interaction.