Can you imagine downloading 1.5 Gb movies in a second, without using Wi-Fi or fiber? Technically, you can, in the laboratory environment of the University of Oxford. Researchers used Li-Fi, an LED-based wireless access technology to achieve bi-directional speeds that are even faster than fiber. Li-Fi is a technology that uses LED lights to provide high-speed Internet connectivity. The relatively new access technology is an energy-efficient alternative to cellular mobile networks.
Most companies are operating on a wireless network as a part of their business infrastructure. They are often reliable and extend the enterprise’s scope beyond their wired network, but they are not perfect. Concerns about radio interference and security have always plagued wireless networks, so network vendors are looking to the future of wireless communications. One advancement in wireless technology that has caught the attention of solution providers and enterprises is LiFi.
LiFi is a wireless network that transmits signals via light rather than via radio signals. The technology is currently under development and is poised to take over WiFi. It’s no doubt an intriguing development, and one that may change the future of wireless networking. However, it’s not worth getting rid of your WiFi infrastructure just yet – there are still some uncertainties that should be addressed. Below, we’ll discuss what LiFi promises to bring and whether or not it will one day replace WiFi altogether.
Do you know that Li-Fi” stands for light fidelity and it’s likely to be the next stage in the natural evolution of in-home wireless internet technology? Before you throw your router in the trash, you should know what Li-Fi is, how it works, and if you can use it in the dark.
To send data over light, Li-Fi relies on LED bulbs. These halogens or other bulbs that have a “warm-up” time, can be switched on and off extremely quickly. That the human eye cannot detect it. This flickering is translated into actual data by special photoreceivers that receive light signals. Then, the signals convert data into streamable content.
So, if suppose, LED light bulb has signal processing technology, it can send data embedded in its beam at rapid speeds to the receivers. The beam will contain rapid dimming and flickering that can be converted into an electric signal by the receiver. This signal is converted back into a binary data stream such as a video, web, or audio file.
For example, Look at your TV remote for instance, that you already use Visible Light Communications in your daily life. Even though you’re not transmitting a PDF to your TV, you’re using light technology to communicate that you’d like to turn it on.
What is Li-Fi?
To understand Li-Fi, it’s important to understand how Wi-Fi gets internet and data to your devices. Wi-Fi uses radio frequency to transmit data from an access point (like a router), and the signal spreads out in a radius around that point. Li-Fi, on the other hand, is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. It uses visible light, like the bulbs that we see in our homes, above our heads, to transmit data. Signals transmitted using that light are easier to focus and concentrate on one area, making Li-Fi potentially stronger and faster than our old friend, Wi-Fi.
How does LiFi work?
WiFi networks allow users to wirelessly connect to a wired network, such as a LAN, by the use of routers and access points. These devices transmit radio signals within a specific radius and can be picked up by any compatible device in range. They eliminate the need for a physical connection by transmitting data to anybody within a certain area.
LiFi works similarly but uses light instead of radio waves to transmit data. A LiFi system uses visible light communication (VLC) to transmit data, which works by converting data to LED light transmissions communicated by turning the LEDs on and off at incredibly high speeds. LiFi uses all available LED light sources, such as lightbulbs, to send data, meaning that your enterprise is most likely already equipped to handle LiFi data.
Li-Fi, short for light fidelity, is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system that relies on the visible light spectrum to provide wireless Internet connectivity. Li-Fi can operate using off-the-shelf LED lights that are connected to transceiver access points. The LED lights transfer binary bits and bytes of data by intermittently flashing lights on and off. They’re essentially strobe lights, but at a rate of 15 million times per second, the rapid flickering remains invisible to the human eye. The LED lights operate as transceivers and transmit data to mobile client devices that rely on a Li-Fi receiver that demodulates the signal to read data. However, because it is a bi-directional technology, the receiver can also act as a transceiver
How Lifi Over WiFi
LiFi promises a handful of advantages over WiFi that is no doubt alluring to both tech experts and enterprises. While the technology is still in development, LiFi companies have determined the number of benefits the system is likely to bring for future development.
To transmit data over a LiFi connection, all you need is just a source of light for its availability. Any business that uses LEDs to light their offices already has the perfect setup.
Light-based data transmissions are inherently short range because unlike radio waves, light cannot travel through solid walls. That, however, means that it is nearly impossible for users in other rooms to hijack LiFi signals – they need to be in the presence of the light to do so. So you don’t need to worry about hijacking or security.
Potentially infinite capacity
The visible light spectrum is much larger than the radio frequency spectrum, meaning that the number of devices able to connect to a LiFi network is much higher. So there will be infinite capacity.
LiFi networks perform much better in areas with lots of electromagnetic interference. This is thanks to their use of light rather than radio waves to transmit data.
Why is Li-Fi better than Wi-Fi?
The company, pureLiFi has been created because of the belief that Li-Fi can solve Wi-Fi’s issues of energy efficiency, availability, capacity, and speed. Early testing of LiFi found that it is 100 times faster than existing Wi-Fi, including the high-speed Google Fiber. Another benefit to Li-Fi over Wi-Fi is it’s theoretically more secure. Visible light is much less inclined to interference than radio waves, and Li-Fi signals can’t penetrate walls. Meaning, it’s harder for neighbors to get on your internet without paying for it. Should Li-Fi become a global phenomenon, it will reduce energy usage by allowing LEDs to be dimmed for slower speeds.
Now the question comes, Can we use Li-Fi in the dark or outside in the sun?
The main misconception about LiFi is it won’t work with the lights off. You may not be able to perceive that the lights are technically on, but they are. Indirect sunlight, Li-Fi can work through a filtering process that allows the receivers to only use signals from the LEDs and not from the sun.
Negatives to LiFi
Excessive light pollution comes to mind when thinking about the widespread adoption of LiFi. Adding more LED brightness to the time isn’t great for our eyes, especially if those LEDs will technically never be off. The other main issue: Sightlines. In the same way that you can’t turn your TV off from the other room if there’s a wall in your way, you may not be able to receive internet service if there’s a wall between you, your light and your LiFi receiver. Finally, research about the potential health risks of spending hours underneath perpetually running LEDs is limited. A study, published in Scientific American found that LEDs contain high levels of arsenic and lead leading to significant “cancer and noncancer potentials.”
Patents have been filed by several companies for LiFi application in the automobile sector, meaning that the technology could be used to increase road safety or communicate road conditions to traffic lights. But these are just patents and we may be a long way away from practical use.
For now, we should rest easy knowing that we don’t have to put LED bulbs in our bathrooms in order to listen to music in the shower. That lighting is just way too harsh for naked bodies.
Will LiFi ever replace WiFi?
While LiFi is certainly an interesting development, it’s not clear at the moment whether or not it will eliminate the need for WiFi networks. Widespread LiFi adoption is still a long way away, and though it is very promising, there isn’t enough sufficient data on the technology at the moment. The jury is still out on LiFi’s overall efficiency in terms of cost and energy usage. While it may be less costly to run, it’s short-range means that larger companies need to put more of an investment into building the necessary infrastructure.
For the time being, WiFi is still the predominant wireless network. It’s probably safe to say that LiFi will replace it one day, but that day is most likely in the distant future.