lifi concept

Technology review – What is LiFi?

Since the advent of lighting in the early 19th century, a lot has already changed.

From illuminating offices, cars, homes, and streets, lightings could now power our great demand for connectivity.

Wondering what that tech innovation is?

It is the so-called, “LiFi.”

LiFi (Light Fidelity) is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system which runs wireless communications travelling at very high speeds. It uses common LED (light emitting diode) bulbs to enable data transfer with boasting speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second.

The term LiFi was first coined by University of Edinburgh Professor Harald Haas during a TED Talk in 2011. He envisioned that light bulbs could act as wireless routers.

Tl; dr;

LiFi or Light Fidelity was first coined by University of Edinburgh Professor Harald Haas during a TED Talk in 2011. It is based on a “visible light communication” utilizing only LED bulbs. Known to have boasting speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second, it is 100 times faster than its predecessor, the Wi-Fi.

LiFi: Limitless possibilities

office with people

Source: Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)

A high-speed wireless data transmission technology, LiFi aims to replace Wi-Fi by using lights to transmit internet signals. It utilizes the LED (light emitting diodes) bulb that act as visible light transmitters.

Professor Harald Haas was the first to study the possibility of exploiting the frequencies belonging to the light spectrum during a conference held at TED Global in 2011 stating LiFi as a Wi-Fi optical correspondent.

With LiFi, data is transferred through the LED light beam and then through a photo-detector (photodiode), it is converted again by the receiver into electrical signals. These signals are then converted once again into the binary data stream, which may be in the format of a video clip, anaudio or any online application.

lifi diagram

Source: pureLiFi

Advantages

Offering mobility, speed, cost, security to smart cities, homes, hospitals, transports, and enterprises solutions, LiFi is:

  • Cost-efficient and simple. As we know, radio frequency communication requires radio circuits, antennas and complex receivers. On the other hand, LiFionly uses direct modulation methods similar to those used in low-cost infrared communications devices such as remote control units. The LED light bulbs are high intensity and can achieve very large data rates.
  • Fully secure. Using visible and near-visible light to connect electronic devices, LiFi cannot pass through walls. Data exchange would remain confined to lit areas, thus lowering your chances of getting hacked (e.g. man-in-the-middle attacks).
  • Runs at a very high speed. LiFi offers great user experience because it reduces the need to share the wireless bandwidth with other users. The connection can reach approximately 1000 times the data density of Wi-Fi, offering more data per square meter.
  • Less harmful. LiFi can be an absolute for 3G or cable connections, avoiding the use of use of radio waves known to be potentially harmful to human health.
  • Multipurpose lighting. Having lights almost everywhere, everything from private or public lighting such as streetlamps can be used to provide LiFi hotspots. Plus, these same communications infrastructure can be used to monitor and control lighting and data.
  • Absent from interferences. Wi-Fi (radio frequency technology) is vulnerable to a wide variety of devices such as smartphones, cordless phones, microwaves, and other neighboring Wi-Fi networks. LiFi signals, as defined by the area of illumination, interference is much simpler to avoid.

Limitations

Though it’s quite beneficial, LiFi’s drawbacks are the following:

  • Won’t work in the dark
  • Won’t work if a LiFi enabled devices is in your pocket
  • You need to be within the radiance of light to remain connected

Summary

LiFi or Light Fidelity was first coined by University of Edinburgh Professor Harald Haas during a TED Talk in 2011.It is based on a “visible light communication” utilizing only LED bulbs.

LiFi is cost-efficient, secure from hacking, has high speed connection, less harmful to health, multipurpose, and has no interferences.

By Tuan Nguyen

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