Everything You Need To Know About Li-Fi & How It Scores Over Wi-Fi

We all know that the speed of light is 299,792,458 m/s. Now imagine that you are using the internet with a speed of 224 gigabits per second transmitting through the light! This might seem like a dream now, but the time is not so far away when it becomes a reality and allows you to download 10 HD movies within minutes.

How Will This Happen?

It was all be enabled by a technology called the Light Fidelity or Li-Fi, which is a Visual Light Communication (VLC) System, first coined by Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh during a TED talk in 2011. It is a high speed bidirectional and full duplex wireless communication technology that works just like a Wi-Fi.

How It Works

In simple words, Li-Fi converts a beam of light into electrical signals and then these signals are converted back into data, after which the data is transmitted electromagnetically. An LED bulb with signal processing technology is used as a transmission source resulting that the constant electricity supplied to the bulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at a very high speed that will be invisible to the human eye. The pulses of the rapid dimming of the bulbs are converted into electrical signals by a receiver dongle and finally, the electrical signals are converted back into a binary data stream that you can use as web or anything that runs on internet enabled devices.

Li-Fi v/s Wi-Fi In Terms Of Communication Protocol

  • Wi-Fi uses radio waves for transmission of data, while Li-Fi uses visible light from LED (Light Emitting Diodes) light bulbs fitted with a special chip
  • The speed of Li-Fi is a hundred times faster than Wi-Fi
  • The spectrum range is higher in Li-Fi because the visible light spectrum has 10,000-time broad spectrum in contrast to radio frequency
  • The cost will be cheaper in Li-Fi as it uses light and needs fewer components than radio technology
  • Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi as light cannot be passed through the walls providing more secure data transfer.

Li-Fi Use Cases

PureLifi, the company started by Professor Haas in 2012 is performing experiments in the labs for the advancement and modification of Li-Fi. Till now the practical results of lab experiments are found to be around 224GB per second but in real life, it provides a lot slower speed of 1GB per second. The technology is new, and researchers are still working on it.

In June 2018, the company offered Li-Fi starter kits to academic researchers. They also opened a channel programme for IT resellers for adding Li-Fi to their portfolio. Later in July, the IEEE confirmed a global standard for Li-Fi with an estimated target date of May 2021.

Some of the areas where Li-Fi can find applications are:

  • Li-Fi can be used for underwater communication. Radio signals cannot travel through water, but light can travel through water providing communications underwater.
  • It can be broadly used in the Internet of Things (IoT) due to its extremely high speed.
  • Li-Fi can be used in military camps with specific lights where there is limited access to networks.
  • It can also be used as car-to-car communication by enabling Li-Fi on car front as well as rear lights.

Drawbacks

  • In this case, the LED bulbs need to be switched on even in the daylight for data transmission.
  • The range is shorter because light cannot pass through the walls.

Li-Fi In India

Velmenni, a Delhi based startup in India has been working in the field of Li-Fi since 2012. They created a Li-Fi-based mesh network solution to transfer data across long distances where optical cable infrastructure is not easy to implement. Currently, they are working on pilot projects to utilize bidirectional VLC in diverse industrial conditions.

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