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Sure, Wi-Fi is great, but LiFi takes wireless internet connectivity to a whole new speed levels

by Felix Omondi

Wi-Fi networks have made our lives so untangled, though we never stop to think about or appreciate it. The speeds of modern-day wireless routers are super-fast; though the connection speeds of your ISP plays a greater role in how you experience the speed than the speed of the router. It is only a gateway after all, and it’s your ISP who determines how fast or slow you will be browsing. But what if I told you LiFi could increase wireless connection speeds hundreds fold?

LiFi is a new type of high-speed wireless internet transmission technology, but unlike Wi-Fi that uses invisible electromagnetic rays. LiFi uses visible light to transmit data. That means you will be able to view the network as light; when you don’t see it, it means the network is off.

Organic LED the backbone of LiFi network

LiFi is a prototype work by researchers from the Northumbria University, Newcastle and UCL. These researchers have come up with a new kind of organic LED (Light-Emitting Diode) capable of communicating with smart devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers. The communication is significantly faster than what you get with conventional Wi-Fi networks.

LiFi uses visible light communication to transmit data. Yes, your basic light like that on your ceiling or tabletop lamp. The kind of light visible to the naked human eye. The researchers say a movie that would normally take you one hour to download over Wi-Fi will just take a couple of seconds to download over LiFi.

The researchers are working towards building a low-cost, plastic all-organic LED that could become the world’s first completely visible communication light system. The project lead, Zabih Ghassemlooy – a Professor of Optical Communications at Northumbria University and also the head or the University’s renowned Optical Communications Research Group, had the following to say:

In the future, almost all the lights we use in our homes and offices will be LED – they are cheaper, greener, and more efficient, using up to 10 times less energy than traditional incandescent or fluorescent lights.

Given the increasing amount of data we are all using, it, therefore, makes perfect sense to develop this LiFi technology so we can use our existing lighting infrastructure to provide fast internet in the future.

The new LEDs being developed at UCL during this project not only provide light but will have additional functionality to allow them to communicate with other electronic devices, not only delivering data but receiving it back as well.”

What happens when you turn off the lights?

Having faster wireless connections is always welcome, but this LiFi technology means the lights have to be on to continue browsing the internet. What about daytime, when we all need some natural lights into the offices and homes, does it then mean by turning off the lights we cut internet connection to our devices?


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The security angle of LiFi

Do you have neighbors who have the tendency of getting your home or office Wi-Fi password secretly and keep using your internet without your (the one who pays the bill) explicit permission? Well, with LiFi being visible light, means, unlike Wi-Fi it can’t pass through walls.

That is to say, your next door neighbor will not get the opportunity of piggybacking on your internet anymore. It also means other rooms where the router’s (in this case the light bulb) light does not reach will not have an internet connection.

Also: MyLiFi: A desktop Lamp Stand that beams Internet Connection to your Laptop

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