Li-Fi – What If Every Light Bulb in the World Could Also Transmit Data?

Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) is the transmission of data using light waves, send the data through LED bulb that varies in the intensity faster than human eye can follow. It was first showcased by Harald Hass from University of Edinburgh, UK, in his TED talk on VLC. Li-Fi protocols are defined by the international standard IEEE 802.15 established since 2011 by the IEEE COMITY. This is the same COMITY that has previously defined the Ethernet 802.3 and Wi-Fi 802.11 standards. Many specialists consider Li-Fi to be a major breakthrough technology for the mobile Internet and for the connected objects domains.

Li-Fi consists of a wide range of frequencies and wavelengths, ranging from the infrared through visible and down to the ultraviolet spectrum. It includes sub-gigabit and gigabit-class communication speeds for short, medium as well as for long ranges. It also includes unidirectional and bidirectional data transfer using line-of-sight or diffuse links, reflections. It is not limited to LED or laser technologies or to a particular receiving technique, but Li-Fi is a framework for all of these and provides new capabilities to current and future services, applications as well as end users. The most important advantage of Li-Fi Technology is in accessing internet at high speed in those areas where optical fires are not easy to be laid. At the same time in many occasions when you set up a wi-fi route, you will have to choose a specific spot to place your router so that on an average, it provides good connectivity in all your rooms.

How Li-Fi Works?

The LED lamp will hold a micro chip that will do the job of processing the data. On one end all data on the internet will be streamed to a lamp driver. When LED is ON microchip convert digital data in form of light. On the other end this light is detected by the photo detector. Then this light is amplified and fed to the device. If the LED is ON, transmit a digital 1, if it’s OFF you transmit a digit 0.

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Advantage of Li-Fi

1. Capacity

  • 10000 times more spectrum than radio waves.
  • Light box is present. It contains 1000s of LED making it possible to transfer 1000s of data stream parallel at a very high speed.

2. Efficiency

  • LED lights consume less energy, so it is highly efficient.

3. Availability

  • It is available at all places where light is present.

4. Security

  • Light waves do not penetrate through walls and hence cannot be intercepted and misused by anyone having any bad intention.

Applications of Li-Fi

  • In hospitals, it is difficult to lay the optical fiber cables.  Li-Fi can be used for modern medical instruments in operation theatre.
  • In traffic signals Li-Fi can be used, which will communicate with the LED light of the cars and thus occurrences of accidents can be reduced.
  • Thousands and millions of street lamps are deployed around the world. Each of these street lamps could be a free access point.
  • Li-Fi can work under sea water where Wi-Fi fails completely, thereby throwing endless opportunities in military/navigation operations.
  • In aircraft Li-Fi can be used for data transmission.
  • It can be used in petroleum or chemical plant where other transmission or frequencies could be hazardous.

If this application is put into use, we can use every bulb like a Wi-Fi hot spot to transmit the data and hope for cleaner, greener, safer, brighter future ahead.

Author: Sharmila Harigovind

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