Technology is always changing and always evolving, more so now than ever before. In such a fast-paced environment, it can be easy to lose track and catch yourself scratching your head at the latest jargon. LiFi is a perfect example.
Whilst it has yet to break through into mainstream parlance, it’s a word that will come to mean a lot more to a lot of people in the coming years. Essentially a faster and more reliable alternative to WiFi, LiFi technology is only just starting to break through in many markets. But what is it? And what sets it apart from the WiFi standard we all use today?
LiFi stands for “Light Fidelity” and is so-named because it words by moving data through incredibly high-quality LED lights to provide strong and fast broadband connections through light waves. WiFi, meanwhile, uses radio waves and the benefit should be obvious – light is faster than sound. Not only that, but there is a broader spectrum of light waves compared to radio waves, with the LiFi bandwidth approximately 1000 times larger than the radio spectrum.
How it works
LiFi is transmitted through a series of lights, each of which are effectively fitted with their own tiny modems. These modems modulate light at imperceptible speeds and these modulations are detected by an access point (typically a USB dongle). This access point returns data back to the modem via an infrared link and an incredibly fast, wireless broadband connection is formed. It uses a process known as Visible Light Communication (VLC) that transmits signals via the brightness of each LED light.
Not only is the light spectrum broader and faster, but with so many devices utilising radio waves, it’s a system that is increasingly congested. The light spectrum, meanwhile, is a comparatively untapped resource that can be used not only to connect people to the internet, but help Internet of Things devices communicate with one another.
The primary benefits, however, are all related to speed. Indeed, the frequency of radio sits somewhere between 3 KHz and 300 GHz, whereas the light spectrum sits between 430 and 770 THz, which means it’s theoretically able to transmit data at 22GB per second! It’s also more secure than WiFi, as whilst radio waves can travel through solid walls, light obviously cannot.
This also means, however, that LiFi won’t be able to travel from one room to another (unless you live in a home with walls made entirely of glass). However, a workaround has already been found by syncing the bulbs used as data sourced in different rooms.
So, it would seem there are few hurdles left to the eventual dominance of LiFi technology and companies such as MCS Test are already bringing the tech into homes and businesses across the country. So, if you’re ready for light-speed connectivity, you won’t have to wait much longer!