Light Fidelity or Li-Fi technology is a ground-breaking light-based communication technology, which makes use of light waves instead of radio technology to deliver data.
Li-Fi can compensate as the radio spectrum becomes overloaded
- Using the visible light spectrum, Li-Fi technology can transmit data and unlock capacity which is 10,000 times greater than that available within the radio spectrum.
- The visible light spectrum is plentiful, free and unlicensed, mitigating the radio frequency spectrum crunch effect.
How it works?
- Li-Fi and Wi-Fi are quite similar as both transmit data electromagnetically. However, Wi-Fi uses radio waves while Li-Fi runs on visible light.
- As we now know, Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into 'stream-able' content.
- An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.
- For example, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode).
- The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the 'receiver' into electrical signal.
- The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that we would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.
Li-Fi vs Wi-Fi
- While some may think that Li-Fi with its 224 gigabits per second leaves Wi-Fi in the dust, Li-Fi's exclusive use of visible light could halt a mass uptake.
- Li-Fi signals cannot pass through walls, so in order to enjoy full connectivity, capable LED bulbs will need to be placed throughout the home. Not to mention, Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.
- What's more, where there is a lack of lightbulbs, there is a lack of Li-Fi internet so Li-Fi does take a hit when it comes to public Wi-Fi networks.
- But it's not all doom and gloom! Due to its impressive speeds, Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
- What's more, due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi and it's reported that embedded light beams reflected off a surface could still achieve 70 megabits per second.
The future internet
- Li-Fi technology will in future enable faster, more reliable internet connections, even when the demand for data usage has outgrown the available supply from existing technologies such as 4G, LTE and Wi-Fi. It will not replace these technologies, but will work seamlessly alongside them.
- Using light to deliver wireless internet will also allow connectivity in environments that do not currently readily support Wi-Fi, such as aircraft cabins, hospitals and hazardous environments.
- Light is already used for data transmission in fibre-optic cables and for point to point links, but Li-Fi is a special and novel combination of technologies that allow it to be universally adopted for mobile ultra-high speed internet communications.
A dual use for LED lighting
- The wide use of solid state lighting offers an opportunity for efficient dual use lighting and communication systems.
- Innovation in LED and photon receiver technology has ensured the availability of suitable light transmitters and detectors, while advances in the modulation of communication signals for these types of components has been advanced through signal processing techniques, such as multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO), to become as sophisticated as those used in mobile telecommunications.