Li-Fi Tech Converts LED Light Bulbs Into Wireless Routers

Li-Fi Tech Converts LED Light Bulbs Into Wireless Routers

A new wireless technology called Li-Fi is a super-fast alternative to Wi-Fi and is able to send data at high speeds using visible light communication (VLC) method. Light bulbs can deliver internet access a hundred times faster than traditional Wi-Fi and offer speeds of up to one gigabit per second.

For a long time, scientists and engineers all around the world work on a new technology of information transmission. Now, Li-Fi is finally moving from a research laboratory to the real world. Engineers from an Estonian-based start-up Velmenni, one of the finalists at the Slush 100 start-up competition in Helsinki, implemented a super-fast wireless technology within a commercial context. Li-Fi enabled light bulbs can transmit data at speeds of one gigabit per second. It is about 100 times faster than the current Wi-Fi. Lab tests showed theoretical speeds of up to 224 Gbps. At such speed a user can download a high-definition video within a few seconds.

Operating Principle

Operating Principle

The Li-Fi technology uses a standard light-emitting-diode (LED) which emits a constant stream of photons observed as visible light. (It can also work with invisible infrared or ultraviolet light.) Bulbs switch on and off at extremely high speeds, that can be detected by a photo-detector device but are quick enough to be imperceptible to the human eye. The detector converts this changes in amplitude into an electrical signal. The communication is just as seamless as radio frequency technology. Li-Fi uses protocols similar to Wi-Fi 802.11.

According to a German physicist Harald Haas, all we need is a small microchip fitted to any potential illuminating device that would both LED-based illuminate a room and transmit data to our electronic gadgets. Haas believes that the current infrastructure is suitable for the integration of Li-Fi: in the near future, billions of light bulbs will be turned into billions of ultra-fast wireless routers. Since the current wireless signal transmission equipment is relatively inefficient and expensive, Li-Fi could be a real alternative.

The technology promises speed advantages and better security of communications. According to the creators, one of the major advantages of Li-Fi is the fact that it does not interfere with radio signals, so could be used on aircraft or in other places where interference matters.

Velmenni Deepak Solanski

Where Li-Fi Can Be Used?

Chief executive officer of Velmenni Deepak Solanski says that the start-up team is doing some pilot projects in the industrial environment.

Because Li-Fi uses visible light, it does not work through walls. Therefore, if you want to have a network throughout your house, you need to put Li-Fi enabled light bulbs in every room. For the same reason, Li-Fi does not work outdoors, in direct sunlight, meaning that the technology will not replace public Wi-Fi any time soon.

For now, the applications of the new technology use are somewhat limited, but physicists believe that it would be easy to incorporate Li-Fi into the real world due to its numerous advantages. First of all, it saves energy; in radio modems, efficiency does not exceed five percent, so a large part of the energy consumed goes into heat. Secondly, unlike radio, light can theoretically transmit data at much higher speeds. Thirdly, bulbs could be used in hospitals, where Wi-Fi is not safe, or in closed spaces where Wi-Fi signals will interfere each other.

When Will We Use Li-Fi?

When Will We Use Li-Fi?

The term “Li-Fi” was coined by Harald Haas in 2011. Although Li-Fi exists more than four years, it is too early to speak about its mass introduction. There is still a long way to go to make the technology a commercial success.

As LED lights become more widespread, many companies start looking into using the Li-Fi technology. The list includes Disney research and the largest European application-oriented organization Fraunhofer Institute.

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