Morse code, DVD drives, fiber optics – we’ve been using visible light to transfer data and communicate with each other in a lot of different ways for a long time. But imagine this: using the lamps and lights in your house as a data source to network and connect everything. It would be as easy as connecting your mobile devices to your household lights to get an internet connection faster than currently available. This new tech trend is real and its called LI-FI. Here to share more enlightening thoughts on this futuristic tech and what means to our mobile world is local tech blogger Kevin Andrews.
What exactly is LI-FI?
Li-Fi or light fidelity is a wireless communication technology in which data or information is transmitted at high speeds through visible light. Li-Fi was invented by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland back in 2011, when he demonstrated for the first time that by flickering the light from a single LED, he could transmit far more data than a cellular tower.
How would this be better than our traditional WI-FI technology we currently use?
Good question. Unlike the radio waves or RF signals that make up a WI-FI connection where they tend to spread out everywhere from you main access point, LI-FI uses visible light, which is easier to focus and can be concentrated in one area. A perfect example of this is going outside with a magnified glass on a sunny day and you can see for yourself. And so, because of this highly focused stream of light, LI-FI technology can fit much more data into it’s signal making it 200 times faster than current WI-FI speeds.
So, how would visible light transmit data anyway?
Li-Fi is designed to use LED light bulbs similar to those currently in use in many energy-conscious homes and offices. However, Li-Fi bulbs are outfitted with a chip that switches the light on and off very quickly Li-Fi data is transmitted by the LED bulbs and then received by your device.
It works basically like an incredibly advanced form of Morse code – just like switching a torch on and off according to a certain pattern can relay a secret message, flicking an LED on and off at extreme speeds can be used to transmit data.
And while you might be worried about how all that flickering in a house or office environment would drive you crazy, don’t worry – we’re talking LEDs that can be switched on and off at speeds imperceptible to the naked eye.
What would be some of the advantages of this technology?
LI-FI, which is made up of visible light, is much less susceptible to interference than the traditional WI-FI radio waves.
Also, it would be very efficient. Li-Fi works on visible light technology. Since homes and offices already have LED bulbs for lighting purposes, the same source of light can be used to transmit data.
Availability would be another advantage. Wherever there is a light source, there can be Internet. Light bulbs are present everywhere – in homes, offices, shops, malls and even planes, meaning that high-speed data transmission could be available everywhere.
Finally there is security: One main advantage of Li-Fi is security. Since light cannot pass through opaque structures, Li-Fi Internet is available only to the users within a room and cannot be breached by users in other rooms or buildings. But with this advantage come it main disadvantage.
Because it uses visible light, and light cannot penetrate walls and therefore the signal’s range is limited by physical barriers. This would mean ensuring there are LI-FI sources in any room you would need a wireless connection.
Also too, other sources of light may interfere with the signal. One of the biggest potential drawbacks is the interference of light signals outdoors. For instance, sunlight could interfere the signals, resulting in an interrupted Internet.
So, there would be some major issues to resolve first before this technology becomes available mainstream. Needless to say though, I technology with a bright future though.