What is LiFi?

Light Fidelity (LiFi) is a wireless optical networking technology that uses light for data transmission. It is designed to use LED light bulbs fitted with a chip that imperceptibly modulates the light for optical data transmission. The LiFi data that is transmitted is received by photo-receptors. Earlier developmental models of LiFi were capable of transmitting data at 150 megabits-per-second (Mbps).

With 10000 times the frequency spectrum of radio, LiFi offers much higher speeds than WiFi. Data transmitted using this technology is more secured as it can’t be intercepted without a clear line of sight. LiFi is ideal for use in environments such as hospitals and aircraft as it does not create interference in sensitive electronics. Li-Fi provides better bandwidth, efficiency, connectivity and security than Wi-Fi and has already achieved high speeds of over 1Gbps under the laboratory conditions. The transmission rate can be further increased to 10Gbps through parallel data transmissions using an array of LED lights. By leveraging the low-cost nature of LEDs, there are lots of opportunities to exploit this new medium.

With increase in the number of devices which access the Internet, the availability of fixed bandwidth in current technology makes it more difficult to enjoy high data transfer rates. Li-Fi was introduced for the first time by a German physicist Harald Hass in the TED Global talk on Visible Light Communication (VLC) in 2011. This revolutionary technology has the potential to change the way we access the Internet, stream videos, receive emails and much more.

The main components of a basic LiFi system includes a high brightness white LED that acts as transmission source and a silicon photo-diode with good response to visible light as the receiving element. To generate any new data stream, the data can be encoded into the light by varying the flickering rate of the LED. LiFi has several applications, from public internet access to auto-piloted cars that communicate through their LED headlights, this technology has potential applications in fields such as education, medicine, disaster management, traffic management, mobile connectivity and much more. The growth in the use of LEDs provides the opportunity to integrate this technology in plenty of environments.

Like any other current technologies, LiFi has its own set of limitations. It requires a near perfect line-of-sight to transmit data to the receiver. Internet cannot be accessed without a light source, which could limit the number of locations where LiFi can be used. Natural light and opaque obstacles can affect data transmission and its speed as well.

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