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Why you may soon be able to access Wi-Fi using a light bulb

Photo Credit: Boston University Li-Fi Environment
Photo Credit: Boston University Li-Fi Environment

If you depend on Wi-Fi to get your everyday tasks done you’re not alone. If you have trouble finding reliable Wi-Fi connections, again, you’re not alone. There is a saying, necessity is the mother of invention. This crucial problem of accessibility may soon be a thing of the past, Enter Li-Fi.


The technology is being developed as a potential alternative to Wi-Fi, and because it uses visible light (VLS) to transmit data (light, like radio, is an electromagnetic wave, but it has about 100,000 times the frequency of a Wi-Fi signal).

Li-Fi was invented by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland back in 2011, when he demonstrated for the first time that by flickering the light from a single LED, he could transmit far more data than a cellular tower. The lab-based tests recorded speeds of 224 gigabits per second – that’s 18 movies of 1.5 GB each being downloaded every single second!

Harold Haas, one of the pioneers of Li-Fi technology, has previously claimed that in the future every LED lightbulb could potentially be used as an ultra-fast alternative to Wi-Fi. French tech company Oledcomm is in the process of installing its own Li-Fi technology in local hospitals. “We have the infrastructure there,” Haas said in a TED Talk demonstrating Li-Fi. “We can use them for communications.


The enormous and growing user demand for wireless data is placing huge pressure on already existing Wi-Fi technology, which uses the radio and microwave frequency spectrum. But with Li-Fi An array of light sources in the ceiling could send different signals to different users.

The lack of radio frequency interference is an advantage for Li-Fi over Wi-Fi. Visible light communications (VLS) is intrinsically safe, and could end the need for travelers to switch devices to flight mode.

The benefits of Li-Fi over Wi-Fi, other than potentially much faster speeds, is that because light cannot pass through walls, it makes it a whole lot more secure,A further advantage of Li-Fi is that it can use existing power lines as LED lighting so no new infrastructure is needed. Our homes, offices, and industry buildings have already been fitted with infrastructure to provide Wi-Fi, and removing all of this infrastructure out to replace it with Li-Fi technology isn’t particularly an easy feat, so the idea is to use the devices we have right now to work with Li-Fi technology.

There are still so many technological challenges to tackle but already the first steps have been taken to make Li-Fi a reality. In the future your light switch will turn on much more than just the Light.

Source: Mashable.com
Mwape Chisaka

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