Does Li-Fi really live up to the hype?

Date : 3-17-2019

 Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) potential impact

What is Li-Fi?

While WiFi networks are constantly being improved as a result of the Internet of Things (IoT), a new technology stands to replace it. Although Li-Fi is still in the development phase, this technology has the potential to transform the way consumers use the internet. Li-Fi harnesses light to perform tasks faster than traditional WiFi in a way that is more energy efficient as well as more secure.

Li-Fi or Light Fidelity is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system that is capable of running wireless communications traveling at speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second. The technology uses LED bulbs to transfer data over light waves as opposed to radio waves. Li-Fi is similar to WiFi in the sense that it is completely wireless and operates on wireless protocols similar to 802.11, which is utilized by WiFi.

To better understand how Li-Fi works, it is helpful to think about it functioning much like infrared technology in televisions. Infrared works by transforming an input command such as increasing the volume into binary code. The TV remote’s sensor then takes this code and transmits it over infrared light waves. An infrared sensor on the TV will receive these light waves and decode them so the intended action can be performed. Similarly, Li-Fi works by attaching a server or router to a cable that is then attached to LED bulbs located throughout a building. Data is then transmitted by the LED bulbs as modulating light waves. The light waves are then detected and decoded by a photo-detector or photodiode embedded in a phone or laptop. This means that internet access will be available anywhere a photo-detector can detect the light being cast by the LED bulb.

This technology is promising as it operates at speeds much faster than WiFi. Not only is it fast, but it also eliminates congested radio waves or wireless dead zones and does not require the same power-hungry masts that WiFi does. However, this is not to say that Li-Fi comes without problems. One of the major issues with Li-Fi is that it cannot be used in conditions with harsh lighting as the photo-detectors will not be able to pick up the modulating light waves. It also requires a larger investment in infrastructure as there must be a direct line of sight between the device and the LED bulb. This means that it cannot be configured to go through walls like WiFi can, and thus requires an LED bulb to be placed in each room. There is an upside to this line of sight requirement in that anyone outside of the building will not be able to hack into the system, making it more secure than WiFi.

While it is unclear if Li-Fi will replace WiFi anytime soon, there is massive potential for the technology to enhance existing WiFi and other wireless standards all by utilizing the power of light.

SURE Universal’s platform was designed to support any wireless protocol including those that will potentially be improved through the use of Li-Fi.

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