LiFi - The WiFi of the Future

Imagine a world where the light bulbs in your home can connect you to high-speed wireless internet with a simple flick of a switch. Light Fidelity also known as ‘LiFi’ is a Visible Light Communication System that will change the way we connect to and use the internet! Using LED light bulbs, LiFi enables data transfer that double current internet speeds! Velmenni, a LIFI wireless network company achieved transmission of data as fast as 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) using their system. This means you can download high-definition movies in a matter of seconds opposed to minutes.

How it works

LiFi is a high speed, bidirectional and wireless communication system that allows us to utilize the light we use for a different purpose— connectivity. LiFi enabled LED lights modify illumination levels so that when we turn on our bulbs, not only is light transferred throughout the room, but so is data! This modulation happens so fast that the eye cannot perceive it.

Li-Fi VS Wi-fi

What makes LiFi different than WiFi? Check out a comparison list of the two types of wireless networks:

Feature

LiFi

WiFi

Performance

Transmission of data takes place using LED light bulbs.

Transmission of data takes place using radio frequency waves utilizing a WiFi router.

Privacy

Walls block LiFi’s signal which will provide more secure data transfer.

Walls cannot block radio frequency waves causing the user to take more security measures to protect their data.

Data Density

Works well in dense environments

Does not work well in dense environments due to radio frequency interference issues.

Applications

LiFi is used on airlines, undersea explorations, operation rooms in hospitals, corporate buildings and home premises for data transfer and internet browsing.

Used for internet browsing with the help of WiFi kiosks or WiFi hotspots

Even though LiFi technology seems like an innovative solution for improving wireless data, there are limitations to its system. Since LED lightbulbs are a main component of LiFi technology, if a light source is not present, the internet will not work.  This limits the locations in which LiFi could be used. Additional light sources may also interfere with the signal. One of the biggest disadvantages is interception due to outdoor light signals. For example: sunlight will interfere with the signals, which will result in an interrupted Internet connection. Between both wireless systems, WiFi produces general wireless while LiFi provides coverage in dense and confined areas.

Why is this important?

Consummation of wireless data increases by 60% every year. Almost all data is consumed indoors using WiFi that utilizes radio frequency. Unfortunately, radio-frequency space is slowly becoming overly saturated which can result in a spectrum crunch.

What is a spectrum crunch? Spectrum crunch refers to the increased usage and strain of radio frequency that will eventually prevent wireless broadband from supporting consumer devices. Spectrum crunch poses significant challenges with telecommunications and wireless networks that could affect the speed of our internet usage.

With an increased risk of a spectrum crunch, eventually, WiFi that utilizes radio-frequency technology will not be able to keep up with high demand of data transfer and wireless speeds. LiFi however does not use radio frequency. Instead, LiFi uses the light spectrum which can open up 1000 times more spectrum than radio frequency making it an integral part of future wireless networks– such as 5G.

Resources

  1. Haas, H., Yin, L., Wang, Y., & Chen, C. (2016). What is LiFi?. Journal of Lightwave Technology, 34(6), 1533-1544.

  2. Spectrum Crunch. (2015, October 08). Federal Communications Commission, from https://www.fcc.gov/general/spectrum-crunch

  3. Technology. (n.d.). PureLiFi, from http://purelifi.com/technology/

  4. Zhou, Z., Yang, Z., Wu, C., Sun, W., & Liu, Y. (2014, April). LiFi: Line-of-sight identification with WiFi. In INFOCOM, 2014 Proceedings IEEE (pp. 2688-2696). IEEE.