Let There Be Li-Fi

Li-fi is a technology that has been in a process of development for quite some time now. The term Li-Fi ‘Light Fidelity’ was coined by Edinburgh University Prof Harald Haas in 2011, though the technology is also known as visible light communications (VLC).

Reading about new energy-efficient technologies that can transform the world to a cleaner and greener place, with a lot less emissions and minimal air pollution, can never be uninteresting. Probably this is one of the main reasons why scientists continue exploring and developing techniques and gadgets that can rely less on fossil-fuel-generated electricity, while still fulfilling users’ needs.

Recently, scientists from Shanghai’s Fudan University successfully developed Li-Fi Technology’ a new cheaper way of getting connected to internet. They modulated Internet signals to a 1watt LED lamp. Under the light, four computers were able to access the Internet.

This milestone is an impetus to the already huge popularity of the Li-Fi. The reason why Li-Fi is so attractive is the unlimited capacity of visible light, which is thousands of times bigger than the radio signal, currently used in wi-fi (Wireless Fidelity).

According to Chi Nan, a professor at Fudan University, one micro-chipped LED bulb can generate data speed of as much as 150 megabits per second. In addition, a standard one-watt LED bulb should be able to provide net connectivity to four standard working computers.

The fastest speed previously reported was 3Gbit/s, achieved by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, Germany. Chinese researchers claimed to have produced a 10Gbit/s connection.

Many experts assert that Li-Fi represents the future of mobile internet ‘thanks to its reduced costs and greater efficiency as compared to traditional Wi-Fi.
Both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi transmit data over the electromagnetic spectrum, but whereas Wi-Fi utilises radio waves, Li-Fi uses visible light. This is a distinct advantage in that the visible light is far more plentiful than the radio spectrum (10,000 times more in fact) and 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. Existing LED light bulbs could be converted to transmit Li-Fi signals, and the technology would also be of use in situations where radio frequencies cannot be used for fear of interfering with electronic circuitry.

Given its increasing popularity, we may someday look back at wi-fi as technology from the dark ages.


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