Did you think WiFi was fast? Would you be excited if you knew there was a technology that has the potential to totally blow Wi-Fi out of the water? Well, all your dreams may be about to come true….Why? Because of an emerging wireless technology that goes by the name of “LiFi”.
What is LiFi? – LiFi technology
Where Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transmit data, LiFi uses the light section of the electromagnetic spectrum. Invented by Professor Harold Haas (check out more at his website pureLiFi), LiFi tech has been in the pipeline for a few years, but is now seriously gaining traction and could be used in the real world in the next few years.
Using visible light communications “VLC” (an LED bulb or similar light source), and a photo detector – you can start transmitting and receiving data. Ok, we have made it sound very simple, but that is it in essence.
Here is a video from pureLiFi which explains how LiFi works:
In tests conducted in Tallin, Estonia, speeds have hit beyond 100Gbps (up to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi) – which we have to say, is pretty astounding. These speeds have all been conducted in labs, so no real world testing as yet, but it is very promising indeed!
So basically, LiFi is the wireless equivalent of fiber. For those of you who don’t know, wired fiber technology uses light pulses, which are pushed down thin cables, to provide very fast datacomms.
Why is it called LiFi?
LiFi stands for Light-Fi, as opposed to Wireless-Fi (and the ‘Fi’ doesn’t mean fidelity, in fact the ‘Fi’ doesn’t mean anything, it just sounds good!).
WiFi vs LiFi
There’s nothing like a quick comparison to check out the differences…
What are the advantages of LiFi?
As we’ve already mentioned, LiFi has great possibilities when it comes to speed. But it’s not only super fast, as the light spectrum is around 10,000 larger than the radio wave spectrum, the room for growth and expansion is enormous!
On top of that, LiFi won’t suffer from interference from other devices like what happens with Wi-Fi. You know, baby monitors, phones and microwaves often populate the unlicensed radio bands, which can cause issues with wireless connectivity. As Li-Fi uses the light spectrum, these other appliances will not be a problem.
Ok, great, so we’ve heard about how fast LiFi is, but are there any drawbacks? Well, yes there are unfortunately. As LiFi uses the light spectrum, it is affected by daylight, so it can’t be used outdoors during daylight hours. Also, just like light, it cannot penetrate walls, whereas Wi-Fi can.
However, in some ways, this could be a good thing, especially where security is concerned, because any potential hacker would need to be in the room where the light was emitting in order to have a go at hacking into the network.
Is LiFi going to replace WiFi?
Who knows…because of it’s limitations, it might be better to assume that it can compliment Wi-Fi, so that we all get the best of both worlds…
pureLiFi – Li-Fi products
It’s early days, but pureLiFi have both the Li-1st & Li-Flame products, which showcase LiFi in basic terms. You can check out more on the pureLiFi website.
In the meantime, if you want fast wireless connectivity, for now you will have to make do with Wi-Fi. Hopefully we all won’t have too much longer to wait though!
Would this then need to be a line of sight thing? Wouldn’t that also be a problem? Would you have to continually make sure your laptop was able to have line of sight to the li-fi router? So would this then not work on a cell phone in some way
It’s a technology that would be used more in point-to-point (or bridging) scenarios, rather than to clients (laptops).