Wi-Fi Is So Yesterday; Li-Fi Is the New Kid on the Block

LED bulbs have been a quiet revolution. They are increasingly being favoured over energy-saving bulbs because of their even greater energy efficiency; their small size makes them incredibly versatile, be it for consumer use, trade, manufacturing or infrastructure equipment; they are programmable, low maintenance and durable. They can’t make you a cup of coffee in the morning yet, but that might well change in the near future.

The thing is, LED bulbs have a secret card up their sleeves: unlike traditional bulbs, LEDs don’t have a wire at their heart, but a semiconductor, and semiconductors are, basically, in anything that uses radio waves or is computerised. So theoretically, any LED light could be turned into a mini computer.

Engineers have been exploring how to make use of that semiconductor for tasks other than producing light, namely how it could transmit data: minuscule variations in the intensity of light in an LED can be effected very quickly, so it is conceivable that information could be encoded in an LED through those fluctuations. Although they would be invisible to the human eye, they would be interpreted by a light-sensitive decoder to perform whichever tasks it is programmed for – and hopefully your desk lamp and the decoder won’t be plotting the extinction of the human race behind our backs!

LEDs present so many advantages when it comes to transmitting information that there would be no reason not to try and use them in this way. First of all, they are so much faster than Wi-Fi: at 15 gigabits per second, they dwarf even the fasted Wi-Fi network.

In addition, there would be no need to install any cabling to use this feature, as they would use the LED’s. This will encourage investment in this industry, as there will be no large capital required upfront, as well as make it possible to reach areas that can’t be connected to the internet today because they are too remote. Li-Fi could also be used in environments where radio waves are unsafe, such as oil rigs where an antenna could cause an explosion, or on water.

Light also offers more capacity as a medium, as light spectrum is so much broader than radio waves’, and last, but not least, it would also provide a more secure way to transport information: as light can’t go through walls, people wouldn’t be able to log on to your LiFi network and spy on your communications.

The applications of Li-Fi are dizzying, from cars communicating which each other through their headlights to increase safety on the roads to smart homes whic could detect whether someone has fallen down the stairs and call an ambulance.

With intense R&D into the extraordinary possibilities offered by smart LEDs, there may well be a time in the not-so-distant future where your desk lamp will actually make you coffee in the morning! Until then, if you need LEDs for your home or business, contact us for advice and prices.

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