Li-Fi technology is slowly moving out of the labs and into offices. The technology, which essentially uses visible light to transmit data at speeds that are 100 times faster than current Wi-Fi technology, is gradually making its entry into real life.
Scientists are testing Li-Fi technology in real-world scenarios. Though Li-Fi has been around for some time now, it is for the first time researchers are ready to test commercial and real-world applications. The technology is being currently tested in select offices and industrial environments in Tallinn, Estonia. Li-Fi is a promising new technology, but consumers will be excited by its speed. The current iteration of Li-Fi can relay data at the staggering speeds of 224 gigabits per second (Gbps). Needless to say, Li-Fi certainly has the potential to dramatically change or, more importantly, improve internet connectivity and usage.
Li-Fi, or internet transmission through the visible light spectrum, isn’t a new invention. It was invented way back in 2011 by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Hass successfully demonstrated that a single LED light bulb could transmit way more data at a much higher speed than a cellular tower.
A potential successor to prevalent Wi-Fi, Li-Fi uses LED bulbs that are tweaked to blink at speeds that are too high for the human eye to detect. While an average user may see an ordinary LED bulb giving off light, the bulb is, in fact, switching on and off billions of times per second to transmit strings of data. For simplicity, consider Morse code that has been sped up exponentially.
All the digital communication happens in the visible spectrum. In other words, while humans see the light that is being emitted by the LED bulb, special receptors are able to read the flickering and translate it into data that’s decoded and presented into an understandable format. Li-Fi bulbs appear as any other ordinary LED bulbs, but they actually transmit lightning-fast internet at the same time.
Based on Visible Light Communication (VLC), the Li-Fi technology requires light between 400 and 800 terahertz, which is pretty standard in any office or industrial setting, reported the Huffington Post.
Speaking about the pilot testing, Deepak Solanki, CEO of Estonian tech company Velmenni, where the testing has begun, said, “We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilize the VLC (Visible Light Communication) technology. Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communications is done through light We are also doing a pilot project with a private client where we are setting up a Li-fi network to access the Internet in their office space.”
Is Li-Fi better than Wi-Fi? Considering the staggering speeds Li-Fi is able to achieve, the technology is way better than Wi-Fi ever was. Even the latest Wi-Fi routers never reach the promised theoretical speeds of 1 Gbps, even in perfect conditions. However, Li-Fi managed to achieve 1 Gbps gigabit per second in real life where transmissions must contend with other factors such as movement and interference from other light sources, reported the Christian Science Monitor.
There is an interesting limitation of Li-Fi, which could be a blessing in disguise. While Wi-Fi can penetrate walls or other opaque obstacles, Li-Fi won’t pass through even a flimsy partition since it relies on visible light, reported the Daily Mail. Hence, Li-Fi will remain restricted to a single room. If one needs a network in the adjacent room, the Li-Fi system will have to rely on a wired connection to the next room, where, once again, Li-Fi will be operational. Though it might be a limitation, intruders won’t be able to piggyback on your signals as they do now. Moreover, LEB bulbs that transmit Li-Fi won’t interfere with other signals.
Although Li-Fi technology is still very much in its infancy, given the rapid rise in the need for wireless internet and the rising speeds of connectivity, it is only a matter of time before you will be wirelessly streaming the internet through an LED bulb.
[Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]