Enabling every light bulb to transmit data: get ready for Li-Fi

In the near future, you can expect to sit or stand under a light bulb and use wireless internet through the light of that bulb only. The revolutionary technology that has become the talk of the internet town these days is known as Li-Fi which enables data transmission through visible light communication. Li-Fi (light fidelity) is a high speed wireless communication technology similar to that of Wi-Fi that was coined by Professor Harald Haas as a replacement of data transmission technologies. Haas first experimented the successful transmission of data through a single LED back in 2011 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland with a record speed of 224 gigabits per second. To simplify it, the speed is comparable to that of 18 movies of more than 1 GB downloading every single second.

Researchers and scientists have now taken out Li-Fi out of the lab and tested it under realistic settings of offices and industries in Tallinn, Estonia and achieved the data transmission with speed of 1 GB/second. That is approximately 100 times faster than that of Wi-Fi.

According to what Deepak Solanki, CEO of Estonian Tech Company, Velmenni told IBTimes UK; there are currently a few pilot projects within different industries which utilise the VLC (visible light communication) technology.

Li-Fi uses visible light communication (VLC) to transmit data. VLC is the visible light between 400-800 THz and works like that of an advanced Morse code. Just like we switch on and off a torch in a detectable pattern, flicking a LED at high speeds is used to transmit data in binary codes, whereas the flickering is undetectable by the human eye due to its very high speed.

One of the most highlighted benefits of Li-Fi other than the high speed data transmission is security. As because light cannot penetrate and pass through walls, Li-Fi is much more secured than the traditional Wi-Fi thus it enables much more productive usage of mobile apps and uninterrupted data transmissions, however it is presumed that the Li-Fi will not completely take over Wi-Fi due to infrastructure costs involved, but the two technologies are expected to work in collaboration to achieve efficient and more secured data transmission.

But the technology has its limitations as well. Unlike Wi-Fi, Li-Fi cannot be used in direct sunlight as it will hamper its signal. Secondly the user has to be in direct contact will the emitting light so as to have access to the data transmission medium along with the restriction of it not having to penetrate walls due to which more units will be required to be installed in order to have flawless data transmission. Also that our homes and offices are already well equipped with the Wi-Fi technology and ripping apart the already constructed infrastructure for that and installing a new one for Li-Fi will only causes cost issues for many, yet Li-Fi has provided much evidences of becoming the new face of wireless communication sooner than we have imagined.

“All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission,” Haas said. “In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion Li-Fi deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener, and even brighter future.” Source: Science alert



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