Li-Fi technology may transform wireless internet speeds


Slow loading pages, videos buffer, app crash we have all been there, Wi-Fi guilty as charged.

Though there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of promising Li-Fi technology and it could eventually power the Internet of Things.

Wi-Fi uses radio waves to connect your devices to the internet. Wi-Fi though can be affected by lit florescent lamps, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, microwave ovens dropping its signal just like the outdated analogue radio that lose its connection due to static or atmospheric interference.

Unlike Wi-Fi, Li-Fi uses visible light to transmit data. Not a new fresh idea: Alexander Graham Bell in 1880 designed what he called a photophone that could transmit audio using light (like the optical cable). He said this invention was “greater than the telephone,” This technology was the foundation of fibre-optic networks that we heavily use today. Fibre-optic works by sending pulses of light down optical fibres to transmit data.

Li-Fi uses a similar principle – transferring data via light – but wirelessly using LED light.

Since LEDs can be switched on and off millions of times a second, it’s possible to offer much higher bandwidth than traditional Wi-Fi using Li-Fi technology.

In 2015 Oxford University recorded incredible data speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second during one of their Li-Fi tests.

The LED lights are switched on and off at nanosecond speeds, way too fast for the naked eye to see and it’s this that transmits data. This works the same way your typical TV remote control works using infrared.

Even though there is lack of interference in the Li-Fi signal, the data can only travel where the light can reach; hence a wall in the way then expect a “signal loss error”. On a positive note, light can be reflected or bounced off a wall and still achieve a pretty health rate of 70 Mbit/s in tests. Li-Fi pioneer Harold Hass said during a recent TED Talk,, “We have the infrastructure there. We can use them for communications. All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission.”

Hass’ company, pureLiFi, is working on brining the technology into our everyday world. Its Li-Flame kit is made up of of an Ethernet-connected celling unit to beam the Li-Fi out and a USB-connected desktop unit to connect devices to it.

pureLifi’s partner Oledcomm has a range of devices for sale on its website designed for developing and testing Li-Fi applications. Li-Fi technology is consistently being demonstrated at industry shows with a vision of Li-Fi enabled street lighting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *