Li-Fi has the potential to overturn traditional connection methods and shift the way several industries communicate over the internet. With online security being a top priority for almost every business today, Li-Fi could essentially eliminate the threat of external hacks which has many eager to see what other opportunities it could bring to the marketplace.
What is Li-Fi?
Li-Fi (light fidelity) is a type of visible light communications (VLC). Where Wi- Fi uses radio waves, Li-Fi runs on visible light to transmit data. This essentially turns common household LED light bulbs into a networked wireless communication technology that functions at very high speeds.
Li-Fi could potentially work alongside Wi-Fi to offset any heavy workloads and ultimately boost performance. For example, when downloading video or audio files, or live streaming events, there is usually a heavy demand on Wi-Fi’s bandwidth. Li-Fi becomes the desirable option in these types of scenarios.
What We Know So Far
- Secured Network: Perhaps the most interesting feature of Li-Fi is how secure a connection could be. Since the data being transmitted over a connection using light fidelity cannot travel through walls, the threat of data being hacked remotely or interference between multiple devices are essentially eliminated. This type of connection becomes ideal for banks, security systems, as well as defense and airline industries, to name a few.
- Cost-Effective: Since the lighting infrastructure that Li-Fi would require is typically already in place in the areas one would want to have a connection, the set-up cost would be low. True costs of implementation have yet to be disclosed as it is still in its experimental phase.
Potential Use Scenarios
Li-fi technology could technically be used in any place where LED light fixtures are installed. While its shorter range is a benefit in some scenarios, it is also somewhat limiting. However when deployed in specific use cases its benefits far out weigh its limitations.
- Cellular Networks: Whenever there is excessive use on cellular networks, Li-Fi could be used to offset the demand.
- Public Lighting: Street Lamps and traffic lights that already utilize LED bulbs can be turned into transmitters of light fidelity, becoming internet access points.
- Hazardous Environments: Li-Fi could open up alternatives on restrictions found in hazardous environments. For instance in places where explosive materials or otherwise dangerous environments (mines, or petrochemical plants) prohibit the use of mobile devices, Li-Fi could lift these restrictions.
- Healthcare: Since Li-Fi has no electromagnetic interference, it would be ideal for use in hospitals or healthcare systems. There would no longer be a concern for interference with medical equipment on site. The secure nature of this type of communication would also be ideal for the healthcare industry as they deal with highly sensitive data.
- Toys: Common concerns among parents over their children’s toys being hacked, could be eased with the extremely secure nature of a Li-Fi connection. Interactive toys using VLC would create a safe, environmentally friendly, inexpensive outlet that parents would feel comfortable having in their homes. Disney Research has been studying how to create a magic princess dress using a Li-Fi connected wand to illuminate LED’s embedded in the dress.
Things To Consider
One would assume that in order to use Li-Fi and have a solid connection, the lights would have to be kept on all the time. However, the output of an LED can be reduced to such a low point, that we would register the light as being off and yet it would still be capable of transmitting data.
Although still in its experimental phases, the rate at which Li-Fi is progressing could mean we see it in use in everyday applications sooner rather than later. With rumors of Apple referencing Li-Fi capabilities in their code, many are eager to see if it will be utilized when the iPhone 7 or 8 is released.
With Li-Fi being able to achieve speeds that are fast enough to download multiple HD movies in less than two seconds (224 gigabits per second), one can only hope the technology reaches consumers hands equally as fast.