New Technology – Li-fi via LED light.
New Technology – Li-fi’ via LED light.
Emerging technology ‘Li-fi’ could see specialised LED lights bulbs providing low-cost wireless internet connectivity almost everywhere, say UK researchers. A joint venture project by three top Scottish Universities and Oxbridge named the ‘ultra-parallel visible light communications project’ is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The project leaders say they have achieved data transmission speeds of 10Gbit/s via “li-fi” – wireless internet connectivity using light.
Research into the potential to use LED are also taking place in Germany where experts there are claiming that data rates of up to 1Gbit/s per LED light frequency have been possible in laboratory conditions. Also, scientists in China have developped a microchipped LED bulb that can produce data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second.
Back in the UK, Harald Haas, Professor at Edinburgh University who created the name ‘Li-fi’ (light fidelity) is involved in the UK university project, he has been at the forefront of “li-fi” research for the last 10 years
Li-fi promises to be cheaper and more energy-efficient than existing wireless radio systems helped by the prevalence of LED bulbs and the fact that lighting infrastructure is already in place. The traditional shortcomings of traditional wi-fi routers such as weaker signals the further away you are, is understood to no longer be such a problem with Lifi technology in place. Evenly spaced LED transmitters would provide much more localised and consistent internet connectivity throughout buildings and offices. As tiny micro-LED bulbs allow streams of light to be beamed in parallel, the amount of data that can be transmitted at any one time is multiplied and Prof. Haas;s idea is that light’s inability to penetrate walls makes visible light communication (VLC) technology potentially more secure than current wi-fi connectivity.
A digital technique OFDM enables micro-LED light bulbs to handle millions of changes in light intensity per second, which ultimately acts like a very fast on/off switch. Visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum and its bandwidth is 10,000 times bigger than the radio frequency spectrum used by existing communication systems, affording an immensely greater capacity, online sources of information reveal.
If you are interested in the science behind the technology, you can read here Professor Haas explaining how light can transmit data via this Ted Talks link.