January 24, 2023

What is Li-Fi? Fast Wireless Technology Explained


You’ve heard of Wi-Fi, but what about Li-Fi? The new wireless technology is capable of transmitting data up to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.

Here’s everything you need to know about Li-Fi, including what it is, how it compares to Wi-Fi, and where you can find it…

What is Li-Fi?

Li-Fi is a type of wireless connection that uses visible light waves to transmit data from one device to another. This makes it significantly faster than Wi-Fi, which relies on radio waves to do the same thing.

The technology works when an LED bulb emits pulses of light undetectable to the human eye. These pulses carry data, moving that information to and from receivers — or Li-Fi-enabled devices — that can interpret it.

Lifi.co compares this method of transmitting data to decoding Morse code, albeit at a significantly faster rate.

Is Li-Fi better than Wi-Fi?

Li-Fi boasts a number of advantages over Wi-Fi.

The most obvious advantage of Li-Fi is its speed. The fast transmission speeds of Li-Fi are possible due to the higher bandwidth found in the light spectrum (it is about 10,000 times larger than the radio wave spectrum that Wi-Fi responds to). This allows the wireless technology to transmit data up to 100 times faster than the average Wi-Fi connection and 14 times faster than WiGig.

Li-Fi can also be used in a wider range of locations. This includes areas susceptible to electromagnetic interference, such as hospital operating rooms, aircraft cabins, and under the sea, as well as dense environments typically prone to interference with a Wi-Fi connection.

It is also worth noting that the infrastructure for Wi-Fi is already partially in place, due to the fact that our streets and homes are filled with LED lights.

A major disadvantage of Li-Fi is its shorter coverage distance.

Li-Fi range is limited to around 10m, partly due to physical barriers as light cannot pass through walls. While this has its privacy benefits, it’s ultimately not as convenient as Wi-Fi’s 32m range and ability to walk through walls.

For this reason, Li-Fi is unlikely to fully replace Wi-Fi anytime soon.

Is Li-Fi available now?

It’s been over a decade since the term Li-Fi was coined by Professor Harald Haas at his TED Global talk in 2011. Haas has since co-founded the company pureLiFi to bring Li-Fi-enabled products to market.

According to pureLiFi, the company’s Li-Fi systems are already used by the armed forces to provide secure wireless communications without radio signatures. The technology has been tested in a variety of other applications, including Air France flights, a school in Scotland and a trial by O2.

However, technology is still a bit far from taking over our homes.

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