The Future of Internet Could be Through Light Bulbs – Li-Fi
We all know there is a movement away from Tungsten Light Bulbs over to LED bulbs and the benefits of these just from a lighting perspective are immense. The light you can generate is whiter making it easier to see and so many different colours of light can be generated. The savings you can make are amazing with the LED bulbs lasting up to 30 times longer and running at a tenth of the power of tungsten bulbs. The age of the Smart Lighting product is upon us and offers exciting opportunities to be able to link your tablet, smartphone, gaming console or your plane old PC to the internet. The dawn of Li-Fi is here!
Read on to find out about this amazing technology and how it could work for you
Wireless communication with visible light is, in fact, not a new idea. Everyone knows about using smoke signals on a desert island to try to capture attention. Perhaps less well known is that in the time of Napoleon much of Europe was covered with optical telegraphs, otherwise known as the semaphore.
Wi-Fi vs Li-Fi
The enormous and growing user demand for wireless data is placing huge pressure on existing Wi-Fi technology, which uses the radio and microwave frequency spectrum. With exponential growth of mobile devices, by 2019 more than ten billion devices are expected to exchange around 35 quintillion (1018) bytes of information each month. This won’t be possible using existing wireless technology due to frequency congestion and electromagnetic interference.
The problem is most acutely felt in public spaces in urban areas, where many users try to share the limited capacity available from Wi-Fi transmitters or mobile phone network cell towers.
A fundamental communications principle is that the maximum data transfer possible scales with the electromagnetic frequency bandwidth available. The radio frequency spectrum is heavily used and regulated, and there just isn’t enough additional space to satisfy the growth in demand. So Li-Fi has the potential to replace radio and microwave frequency Wi-Fi.
Example of a Li-Fi Network: Photo credit Boston University
Visible light spectrum has huge, unused and unregulated capacity for communications. The light from LEDs can be modulated very quickly: data rates as high as 3.5Gb/s using a single blue LED or 1.7Gb/s with white light have been demonstrated by researchers in our EPSRC-funded Ultra-Parallel Visible Light Communications program.
Unlike Wi-Fi transmitters, optical communications are well-confined inside the walls of a room. This confinement might seem to be a limitation for Li-Fi, but it offers the key advantage that it is very secure: if the curtains are drawn then nobody outside the room can eavesdrop. An array of light sources in the ceiling could send different signals to different users.
The transmitter power can be localized, more efficiently used and won’t interfere with adjacent Li-Fi sources. Indeed the lack of radio frequency interference is another advantage over Wi-Fi. Visible light communications is intrinsically safe, and could end the need for travelers to switch devices to flight mode.
A further advantage of Li-Fi is that it can use existing power lines as LED lighting so no new infrastructure is needed.
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