From Wi-Fi to Li-Fi – The Difference a Letter Can Make

Although the last 50 years have possibly brought the most dramatic changes to mankind with an array of new technologies, it is likely that it was only the beginning. Devices are getting incredibly “smart”, opening up a world of possibilities. One we particularly like is the idea of a self-cleaning house which also orders groceries when you are running low!

One technology that may make this become a reality is Li-Fi – Li standing for light. The thing is, you see, that LEDs have a secret: semi-conductors. Semi-conductors are used in any electronic device that uses radio waves or is computerised so, in theory, this could be exploited to turn any LED light into a smart light able to perform various functions. That is what Li-Fi is about.

Several avenues are being explored as to how LEDs could be made to transport information. They are capable of handling data transfer in an impressive way. They are actually much, much faster than Wi-Fi, with a capability of 15 gigabits per second – the best broadband networks offer a puny 20MB/second!

They also have the ability to effect minute variations in light intensity, invisible to the human eye, and this could be the key to making Li-Fi a reality: these fluctuations would be used as a sort of Morse code to transfer information that would then be interpreted by a decoder to perform specific tasks and manage appliances, heating, air conditioning, etc…

Another advantage of using LEDs as computerised devices is that they wouldn’t need any cabling to be laid or any change to existing infrastructure to work. This makes them a very attractive technology to invest in as, not only will it require less capital than, say, fibre optic businesses, but it also gives access to a large market as a Li-Fi “network” can be operational in areas that are too remote or difficult of access for traditional internet connections. Li-Fi would also be ideal for environments where radio waves are forbidden for safety reasons, such as oil rigs where antennae can cause explosions, or on water.

And that is not all! Light spectrum is much broader than that of radio waves which gives Li-Fi more potential as a medium. It would also procure a more secure way to transport sensitive data – as light doesn’t go through walls, your home Li-Fi “network” would be unhackable.

Beyond the convenience of having a smart house, Li-Fi has many other possible applications such as improving road safety with vehicles being able to communicate through their headlights; live traffic conditions through street lights; calling emergency services if someone has fallen down the stairs, etc…

Thanks to Li-Fi, we may be closer to the utopia described in 1960s sci-fi novels, of a society with more leisure time, although the technology would certainly raise the issue of a “Big Brother” government when used in public spaces.

← Older Post Newer Post →