What is Li-Fi?
Light Fidelity or Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system running wireless communications travelling at very high speeds.
Li-Fi uses common household LED (light emitting diodes) lightbulbs to enable data transfer, boasting speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second.
The term Li-Fi was coined by University of Edinburgh Professor Harald Haas during a TED Talk in 2011. Haas envisioned light bulbs that could act as wireless routers.
How it works
Li-Fi and Wi-Fi are quite similar as both transmit data electromagnetically. However, Wi-Fi uses radio waves while Li-Fi runs on visible light.
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 ‘stream-able’ content.
An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.
For example, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode).
The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the ‘receiver’ into electrical signal.
The future of Li-Fi
In November 2014, Li-Fi pioneers pure LiFi joined forces with French lighting company Lucibel aiming to bring out Li-Fi enables products, by the end of 2015.
pure LiFi already have two products on the market: Li-Flame Ceiling Unit to connect to an LED light fixture and Li-Flame Desktop Unit which connects to a device via USB, both aiming to provide light and connectivity in one device.
Plus, with faster connectivity and data transmission it’s an interesting space for businesses. The integration of internet of things devices and Li-Fi will provide a wealth of opportunities for retailers and other businesses alike. For example, shop owners could transmit data to multiple customers’ phones quickly, securely and remotely.
Li-Fi is reportedly being tested in Dubai, by UAE-based telecommunications provider, du and Zero1. Du claims to have successfully provided internet, audio and video streaming over a Li-Fi connection.
What’s more, reports suggest that Apple may build future iPhones with Li-Fi capabilities. A Twitter user found that within its i OS 9.1 code there were refrences to Li-Fi written as ‘LiFiCapability’ hinting that Apple may integrate Li-fi with iPhones in the future.