What is LiFi?
LiFi technology is similar to WiFi, but instead it uses light instead of the normal radio frequency (RF) spectrum that WiFi uses. It takes advantage of the ability to flicker an LED light bulb – billions of times in a second, just by simply modulating the current.
LiFi technology uses Visible Light Communication (VLC), a medium that uses visible light between 400 and 800 terahertz (THz). LEDs can be modulated to very high speed rapid rates, up to 3.5 gigabytes (GB) per second using blue LED, or 1.7 gigabytes (GB) per second with white light, have been demonstrated. This technology can, in theory, offer speeds of up to 224 GB per second. That’s so fast that it could transfer and download 18 movies in less than one second!
In addition to its enhanced speed, the light technology behind LiFi is not affected by interference from Microwaves or other frequencies, unlike with those WiFi radio signals. This is because it has a substantially broader spectrum. Just compare LiFi – using the visible light range from 400 to 800 Terahertz (THz) to WiFi, which uses an unlicensed radio spectrum of 5 Gigahertz (GHz) and is in short supply. LiFi operates on a spectrum 10,000 times larger than that of radio waves.
This gives greater ability to manage user traffic, increased speeds and can handle demand.
Why use LiFi?
As more and more devices (IoT), people and business demand stable, reliable and quick internet connection, getting the throughput of the signal to the end user and their device is vital. LiFi can enable secure wireless communications, and allow connectivity in RF hostile environments such as chemical plants and hospitals where radio waves can cause ignition of highly flammable gases or interfere with life saving monitoring equipment. And remember as LiFi also provides high speed, dense and reliable networks for enterprise environments – this can be a pathway to enable smart buildings / smart homes.
It was rumoured that Apple looks set to include a LiFi capability in future versions of the iPhone, meaning it can access high-speed data using lighting.
The backing of a tech behemoth like Apple would transform this technology from scientific curiosity into a mainstream technique for accessing the internet, and provide a huge boost to the lighting industry.
The iPhone’s operating system now openly references LiFi capability in its programming code.
Commercially available LiFi is with us now, but when the mainstream starts to adopt this technology – we shall then see prices tumble and user adoption.