“Li-Fi, wireless technology promising 100 times faster internet access than Wi-Fi”, “Lightning fast alternative to Wi-Fi”, “Li-Fi, internet by light promises to leave Wi-Fi eating dust”, these are the phrases that are commonly going around about the new wireless technology Li-Fi. It indicates that it is some fast, very fast technology that is going to revolutionize the speed of internet access. So let’s check out what Li-Fi is and how it works.
What is Li-Fi?
The inventor of Li-Fi, Professor Harald Hass, Co-founder of pureLiFi and Chair of Mobile Communications at UK’s University of Edinburgh, refers Li-Fi as light based communications technology. It is a high speed, bidirectional networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is an established form of wireless communication that uses traditional radio frequency signals to transmit data. Whereas Li-Fi uses visible light portion of electromagnetic spectrum to transmit information at high speeds.
The Li-Fi technology uses flickering of the light from a special LED to transmit data. Data is transmitted through LEDs by modulating the intensity of light. This light is then received by a photo-sensitive detector and the light signal is demodulated into electronic signal. These modulations are so fast that it cannot be perceived by human eye. Li-Fi can be categorised under Optical Wireless Communications (OWC), which includes ultra-violet, infra-red communications and visible light. This visible light energy is used for illumination as well as for communication.
How Li-Fi technology operates?
An LED bulb emits constant stream of photons when a constant current is applied to it. This stream of photons is nothing but visible light. If the current is not kept constant and varied slowly, the output intensity of light will dim up and down. LED bulbs, being semi-conducting devices, the current and hence the intensity of output light can be modulated at very high speed. These modulations are of such a high speed that it is imperceptible to human eye. It can be detected by photo-detector device that can convert it into electric current. Thus information can be transmitted using LED bulb at very high speed.
Some of the highlighted features of Li-Fi:
- Bandwidth: The visible light spectrum is available in abundance (10000 times more than RF spectrum), unlicensed and is free to use.
- High speed: High device bandwidth, low interference and high intensity optical output results in very high data rates.
- Low cost: It is a cost-effective technology as it needs very few components as compared to radio technology.
- Non-hazardous: As all the life forms are exposed to visible light and no health hazards related to visible light are known, it is a safe technology that avoids use of radio frequencies.
- Security: It is a secure wireless communications as it is constrained by walls and eliminates the risk of signal leakage.
Quick comparison of Li-Fi with Wi-Fi:
With accelerated growth of LEDs in almost all the environments, Li-Fi technology can be used in various environments for internet content consumption like live streaming, audio-video downloads, etc. Any public or private lighting with LEDs can be used as hotspots for Li-Fi and a single communication and sensor infrastructure can be used to control lighting and data.
- Li-Fi also makes it possible for short-range communications underwater.
- All mobile devices will be able to interconnect directly through Li-Fi.
- As Li-Fi does not involve any electromagnetic interference, it is safe to be used in hospitals and healthcare centres where it will not interfere with medical instruments or MRI scanners.
Are there any inconveniences associated with Li-Fi
Li-FI technology uses visible light that cannot pass through wall, hence there has to be Li-Fi bulb in every room and all bulbs has to be on all the time.
Advancement in technology will surely find out solutions for problems like Li-Fi does not work in outdoors like public Wi-Fi.
Importance of Li-Fi in IoT:
Li-Fi technology will make IoT interactions more seamless and effective. LED used in IoT products can enable synchronisation with mobile devices simultaneously.
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