LiFi – light at the end of the tunnel for wireless internet
A new technology that transmits data using light.
The international organization IEEE has approved a new standard 802.11bb for wireless data transmission using light. This technology, called LiFi (Light Fidelity), can be faster and more secure than traditional wireless methods like WiFi or 5G. However, LiFi is not going to supplant existing technologies, but rather complement them in certain situations.
LiFi uses ordinary LED lamps that flash at a high frequency, transmitting data in the form of photons. Receivers installed on devices are able to detect these photons and convert them back into information. Users should not notice flicker as it occurs at frequencies above 60 Hz – too fast for the human eye. In addition, LiFi can be 100 times faster than WiFi, potentially reaching 224 Gb/s.
The companies behind the technology, including pureLiFi, Fraunhofer HHI and Philips, have incorporated it into their lighting systems so that devices can receive internet through ceiling lights in homes or offices. Fraunhofer HHI has proposed the use of LiFi to improve transportation by transmitting data via streetlights, traffic lights, and car headlights, which could enable vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
Light-based Internet may have several advantages over WiFi or 5G beyond high speeds. Since it does not use radio waves, it can be useful in places where the radio spectrum is already congested. What’s more, LiFi can maintain a strong signal in environments where other wireless technologies typically struggle, such as inside tunnels. LiFi is also more secure as it does not penetrate opaque objects, preventing networks from being tracked, jammed or intercepted through walls or beyond the reach of a light source.
However, the requirement for line-of-sight or reflection connectivity is a significant disadvantage as it limits the potential reach of a LiFi network. For this reason, it will complement rather than replace current wireless technologies.
In addition, the use of LiFi requires different receivers than those that manufacturers already offer to consumers and manufacturers for WiFi or 5G, adding to the amount of tech junk. PureLiFi has proposed a light antenna for implementation in future smartphones, a USB receiver for existing computers, and other LiFi-based products.