Li-Fi: Shedding Light on the Future of Wireless Connectivity

by Matt Klassen on November 30, 2015

Light, it seems, may hold the key to our coming connected everything digital existence, as researchers in Estonia have brought the futuristic light fidelity (Li-Fi) technology out of the research labs and into the real world, and the results are mind blowing. According to a BBC report, Estonian tech start-up Velmenni recently announced that is has begun testing the technology in real world locations, setting up trials in offices and industrial environments in the country’s capital city of Tallinn.

While early reports from research testing indicated that Li-Fi technology was still woefully slow in data transmission rates, Velmenni’s results in its pilot projects found that such light-based connections were able to send data at up to 1GBps, that is, 100-times faster than current Wi-Fi technologies. To put that into perspective, buffering times for streaming content would be practically instantaneous.

With these results in hand it truly seems that light will play an important role for the future of our wireless existence, for not only does it transmit data faster than traditional radio waves, but given that light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than radio spectrum, the simple fact is that there’s a whole lot more to go around.

“We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilise the VLC (visible light communication) technology,” Deepak Solanki, CEO of Velmenni, told IBTimes UK. “Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light. We are also doing a pilot project with a private client where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the internet in their office space.”

That’s not to say that Li-Fi technology is not without its significant, almost debilitating drawbacks, as working with light comes with numerous challenges. First, given that we’re working with light waves, such technology would be ineffective outside in direct sunlight, where other light rays would interfere with the signal.

Second, light technology is restricted to line-of-sight, meaning it cannot travel through walls or around obstacles.

While some might think these limitations may be enough to damn this burgeoning technology to the technological garbage heap, consider that if utilized correctly, Li-Fi technology could be an effective supplement to Wi-Fi, which both, in turn, could help data networks more effectively deploy their own use of limited broadband spectrum.

In fact, consider just how effective Li-Fi could be in an office environment, where the strategic use of specialized light bulbs would mean that each room could have blazing fast data connection speeds. Truth be told, anywhere an artificial light shines we can legitimately start imagining the arrival of blazing fast connection speeds to that space as well.

All that to say, while Li-Fi may never completely replace our use of Wi-Fi and radio waves to effectively transmit data, consider it a strong supplement, or even a partner, in establishing a comprehensive network for our connected everything future. In fact, while only a few months ago it looked like Li-Fi was many years away from commercial implementation, the success of these pilot projects means that light technology may be helping to power our wireless world within the next two to three years.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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