Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Li-Fi promises a faster Wi-Fi future

Li-Fi promises a faster Wi-Fi future

You probably used a wireless network today, and you probably took it for granted, or really only noticed it if something went wrong, or your Internet connection was a little slower than normal. That’s not always the fault of the wireless connection to be absolutely fair, but it’s a sign of a mature technology that we only really notice it when we can’t have it.

All of that might make you think that Wi-Fi’s reached its natural maturity point where there’s not much innovation to be had, but that’s not the truth at all. Right now there’s new 802.11AC routers promising (and mostly delivering) faster direct Wi-Fi speeds to today’s gadgets, but it’s the innovations that we’ll see in the next five years that are the most exciting prospects. That’s not just in the field of radio-based Wi-Fi but also emerging technologies that promise to supplement Wi-Fi with even higher data speeds.

Li-Fi is a technology that uses pulses of light to transmit information instead of radio waves. The logic is actually a little easier to understand than that of Wi-Fi, if you remember that any bit of information in your computer or phone is just a bunch of ones and zeroes. In lighting terms — and this is a massive simplification for the purposes of illustration — if you counted “off” as zero and “on” as a one, it’s not tricky to see how switching a light on or off could be used to deliver information. That’s not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination, of course. A lighthouse, signal lamp or semaphore works on that kind of visual pattern identification. Li-Fi simply takes that concept and weaves it into a much higher speed pattern that also utilises different frequency lighting, including infrared to deliver data speeds that are simply mind-boggling. The realistic throughput of current Wi-Fi gear tops out around 100Mbps, but current Li-Fi tests have delivered data delivery speeds of up to 1Gbps, or around 100 times faster. Its use of visible light between a transmitter and receiver also gives it security that Wi-Fi doesn’t have. Radio signals will generally bounce anywhere and everywhere, which is why your laptop can probably pick up your neighbour’s Wi-Fi network, but you can control where light goes in a room simply by closing curtains or a door.

If you’re curious about light flickering effects causing headaches or distractions, this shouldn’t be an issue, because there’s a whole range of the light spectrum that isn’t visible or detectable by the naked human eye, so anyone using Li-Fi shouldn’t suffer any ill effects from it. In fact, while a Li-Fi bulb transmitter would need to remain “on” in order to transmit, you could lower the visible light intensity to the point where it appeared “off” to the naked eye while still retaining its ability to transmit data to compatible devices.

Indeed, the theory is that it’s likely to be genuinely useful in areas where RF radio effects are undesirable, such as some high frequency telescopes used for scientific exploration of the universe, or in the more common real world, on airplanes where radio interference could be problematic.

We’re a good few years before Li-Fi equipment becomes commercially available, and as technology it’s going to be complimentary to existing Wi-Fi, rather than its successor. Li-Fi use of light means that it’s not going to be as effective for outdoors use in the day, and the same aspects that give it some security also mean that it’s not going to work well in complex buildings with plenty of walls.

Share

Recent News

Generally speaking, when there’s an important update for your notebook, it’s a decent idea to install it. It may not be an update that makes an immediate obvious new feature available. Instead it may work behind the scenes to add layers of security, fix bugs or improve general performance. It’s why for the most part… More 

Samsung has long pitched its “Note” line of larger smartphones as being perfect for folks with a productivity focus for their smartphone work. A few years ago, it introduced a specific desktop dock for its Note and Galaxy S class phones, the DeX dock. Drop a qualifying Samsung phone into a DeX dock, and what… More 

For most of us, buying a new laptop is a matter of expediency, not outright tech desire. We’ll make do for as long as possible on an older system until it simply isn’t economical — or sometimes feasible — to continue working with it or repairing it. When that happens, market figures suggest that most… More 

Apple recently made some pretty large changes to its line of MacBook laptops. In recent years there’s been an array of choices, from the very small “MacBook” through the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines. Some of these had the newer butterfly keyboards and Apple’s own Touch Bar sensor, while others didn’t. If you didn’t… More