The Next Form of Wireless Internet – Li-Fi

Everything you need to know about the technology that's going to make Wi-Fi obsolete!

Li-Fi-Logo

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz on this fancy new technology called “Li-Fi”. However, the part of the whole affair that raised eyebrows around the world was the claim that Li-Fi can provide 100 times faster internet connectivity than existing WiFi offerings! Well, I’m happy to acknowledge that, the claim is a 100% true!

For those who haven’t followed the announcements regarding the arrival of Li-Fi, let’s take a closer look at what Li-Fi actually is and how it’s going to transform the world of internet connectivity.

What is Li-Fi?

Li-Fi stands for “Light Fidelity”. It is a high-speed wireless communication technology that uses visible light to transmit information. It has some similarities to existing WiFi technology, as well as some huge differences. WiFi and LiFi are similar because both technologies are wireless. At the same time, they are very different, because unlike Wi-Fi, which relies on radio waves, Li-Fi uses visible light communication (VLC) or infrared and near-UV spectrum waves. In other words, Li-Fi works by using visible light, like the light that is emitted by any regular lamp or bulb! Isn’t that cool?

So here is the deal. Ask yourself, how fast should the light flicker, for you to NOT notice it? Two beats/second? Ten? Twenty? What if that flickering light could transmit data 100 times faster than Wi-Fi? Li-Fi can transmit data at nearly 224 GB/sec. Oh, if you are wondering what is the average transmit speed in Wi-Fi, well, it’s 15 MB/sec. Lets not forget, in India, it’s exactly half of that. ( If you are still using BSNL broadband, this is not for you. )

Wi-fi is fine. Well, it works. But, if you’re being honest, it’s kind of slow and limited by the spectrum of radio frequencies. Li-Fi on the other hand, uses its spectrum of visible and infrared light, which is nearly 10,000 times larger, and about 10 times cheaper to use! So, does this mean, the lights should be on all the time? What about sleep!? Well, it turns out Li-Fi LED’s can be dimmed to levels so low, they are nearly invisible to the human eye, but can still carry enough light to transmit data. Welcome to the future folks!

How does it work?

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 ‘streamable’ content. When a constant current is applied to an LED (LED lamps are commonly found in households and offices nowadays), tiny packets of energy (called photons) are released, which we perceive as visible light. If the input current to the LED is varied slightly, the intensity of the light output also varies. However, the good thing is that such small variations in the intensity of light is imperceptible by human eyes. Since LEDs are semiconductor devices, the current and the optical output (the light produced by LEDs) can be modulated at very high speeds, which is then detected by a photodetector device that converts it back to electric current.

In this way, Li-Fi technology uses light from LED lights to transmit data and provide much faster Internet connectivity.

Li-Fi-Working
Image Courtesy: PureLifi

What would mass adoption surely mean for our future?

  1. No more weak connections! – Never again will you have to walk around the house groaning to yourself, trying to connect to the internet by getting close to the router. Li-Fi doesn’t need a direct line of sight, and by just using the light reflected off of walls, we can still get a transfer rate of about 70MB/sec. This is insane!
  2. Hacker Security – Since information is read through light flickers, your information is relatively safe in your house. You can continue to control your network and, access is restricted to devices in your own space. Why? Well, as simple as this sounds, lights can’t get through walls or doors. *MIND BLOWN*
  3. Autonomous cars will be safer –  Autonomous cars can communicate faster with LED data transfer while on road. Once Li-Fi is included as a standard in road infrastructures, street lights and traffic signals can literally talk to the cars, providing valuable informations such as weather, the expected road conditions etc.
  4. Aviation Sector – Li-Fi can also be used in aircraft carriers without causing electro-magnetic interference. Yes, you could use your phones inside the planes! Bots can communicate under water without physical cables! PureLifi, a company founded by Harold Haas, has already started headway in pushing this promising tech to the market. And, according to analysts, it’s expected to grow year after year, with an expected market size of 8 billion!

    So brace yourselves! The future of speedy internet may arrive faster than you think!