Li-Fi was introduced as nothing more than an idea by a University of Edinburgh professor Harald Haas (the man in the picture above) in a TED talk in 2011. This new technology is an optical wireless networking system where the network is powered by rays in the visual, infrared and ultraviolet range.
Is Li-Fi the Wi-Fi Killer?
Li-Fi is special because it is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi and allows for data transfer speeds of up to 224 Gbps!
Now you know why people call it a Wi-Fi killer.
Of course, the 22 Gbps speed is only possible in perfect laboratory conditions. A lot of research is being done on Li-Fi so that it can be created into a marketable technology as well. So far it has shown a speed of 1 Gbps in normal conditions – still, this is very fast and much faster than what you’ll get from Wi-Fi.
So is Li-Fi a replacement for Wi-Fi?
Why does Wi-Fi need to be replaced in the first place? I’m perfectly happy with my Wi-Fi!
What’s wrong with WiFi, really?
Well, there isn’t much wrong with Wi-Fi, the technology is solid and you will probably use it for another decade or so. Whereas Li-Fi is not going to be available to you for daily use for many years still. But it can potentially replace Wi-Fi in the future.
The reason for this is that Wi-Fi uses a very limited spectrum, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The problem is far too many people use these spectrums and they can get crowded very easily. An easy thing to do would have been to get more spectrum for Wi-Fi. But because of the confusing international regulations on spectrum use, this is not possible in the near future.
What about Li-Fi?
It is based on communication between light diodes. So it does not use any spectrum. Li-Fi networks consist of LED diodes at either end that receive light signals. These devices work as semiconductors of light, which means when electricity is supplied to them, they dip and dim at really high speeds. You cannot observe the changes in them; they are just too fast for that.
So Li-Fi works by fitting these LED diodes with a signal processing technology and sends data at extreme speeds to the photo-detector at the other end of the network. The receiver at the other end interprets every single change in the LED diodes and converts them first into electric signals and then into binary data signals. These signals can then be recognized by audio or video or Web applications. That’s how you get to download massive files or stream videos at super fast speeds.
The advantages of Li-Fi is that it is very secure and cannot be hacked, unlike Wi-Fi. It is also super fast, and can be used with a variety of devices connected to the internet, such as wearables (smart watches). It works well with the concept of the Internet of Things that everybody is talking about.
But there are problems with power wastage as to make Li-Fi work, you will need to keep the LED bulbs on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Obviously, this is not practical as the power consumption would be just too much.
That’s why a lot of research is still going on to make it more power efficient and practical. But there is no question that it is one of the most exciting new technologies that have emerged over the last couple of years or so.