Li-Fi: 100 times faster than Wi-Fi, tests prove

“Li-Fi, a super-fast alternative to Wi-Fi, has been proven capable of sending data at up to 1GBps in real-world tests,” Adam Boult reports for The Telegraph. “At that speed, 100-times faster than current Wi-Fi technologies, a high-definition film could be downloaded in a matter of seconds.”

“In a pilot scheme carried of by Estonian start-up Velmenni, the technology was trialled in offices and industrial environments in Tallinn,” Boult reports. “Li-Fi uses light to beam information through the air. Writing about the technology earlier this year, The Telegraph’s Sophie Curtis said: ‘Light is already used to transmit data across fibre optic networks at high speed. These work by guiding the light along optical fibres using total internal reflection, so that no information is lost along the way. However, transmitting information by beaming light through the air is more difficult, because there is no ‘light tunnel’ to guide the signal to where it needs to go.'”

Boult reports, “Li-Fi technology was originated in 2011 by Professor Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh, who demonstrated that, with a flickering light from a single LED, he could transmit more data than a cellular tower.”

Demo – Visible Light Communication Device for Smartphones from Velmenni on Vimeo.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Data delivered at the speed of light!

23 Comments

  1. 1GBps wireless is meaningless unless you have 1GBps coming into the building. Until ISP’s invest more into the “last mile” of their infrastructure, these speeds are only useful in your own LAN.

    1. Unlike radio waves, Li-Fi can be made to be very directional cutting out anyone who is not in the direct straight line path. Add regular key encryption, and Li-Fi, if setup correctly, can be much more secure.

      1. That’s my hope. But light leaks out the window, so a good camera/sensor in a parked van outside your house could pick up something. That is if you believe in mysterious vans. Also what’s to say this can’t be adapted to IR and effectively be transparent to walls. As consumers we would have to demand a narrow bandwidth, for this very reason. Then we could start a small business checking for and blocking leaks.

  2. The future?:

    An iPad (or other Mobil or stationary device) as an interface linked at very high speed via extreme encryption to unlimited computing power in the cloud, and we will all have secure access to unlimited computing power and all our data anywhere and anytime, with the lights on 😉

    Of course, the future possibilities for much of what may be possible could be negated by the “Peeping Tom” business model of some private companies, or the fears of short sighted and blind regulators who seem hell bent on assuring that back doors create inherent insecurity in all things digital to facilitate spying on us all.

    1. It’s not the future.

      Free Space Optics systems have been doing 100+ Gbps over the air for many years and in some cases over many kilometers. Plus, there are systems that can act as central nodes for networks. Further, the price (and size) of those systems have come down dramatically over the last dozen plus years. They’re not small enough or inexpensive enough to put into your cell phone, but for a set of high end workstations and a central server node, it is very close to being practical.

      However, there are lots and lots of “the devil is in the details” here that most just gloss over.
      1) This ONLY works via line of sight. The emitters and receivers have to be able to see each other at all times. Thus they MUST be in the same room (or as a worst case, looking through a doorway into the next room).
      2) You must still run cable from a central node to all of the emitters. Thus if you want this in every room in your house/office then you need to run Cat 6a or Cat 7 to from a central node to an emitter in every room. (Even 802.11ac Wave 2 is not going to get you a user information rate of 8 Gbps [1 GBps].)
      3) Not likely to be practical outdoors for several years after the initial deployments. Atmospherics (which can easily be controlled indoors is a bear to control outdoors) such as simple things like direct sunlight can interfere with the reception of the light carrying the signal.
      4) Simple things like a person getting in the way of the beam will need to be considered at all times. Ask a friend or coworker over to see a streaming video and she/he leans over your system to see it, blocks the light beam, and the imagery is interrupted.
      5) Emitters and receivers will need to be pointed to at least a reasonable extent. When you’re up and walking around with your laptop, tablet or phone you’ll need to be mindful of both the orientation of their device and the placement of the emitter in the room.
      and on and on and on

    1. Sorry but, as with electric wire transmission, sticking a node box in the middle of the data stream is trivial. The FBI is known to have at least 7 such nodes hooked into the Internet around the USA. It’s still just cables and moving bits of data.

  3. However, transmitting information by beaming light through the air is more difficult, because there is no ‘light tunnel’ to guide the signal to where it needs to go.’

    Apart from lasers.

    The evil ISP oligarchy is going to make sure they charge and arm and a leg for this tech. Oh joy. That is if they bother to make the investment into the new hardware, which I seriously doubt. 😈

    Meanwhile, a reason to put hardware IO ports back onto computer gear! 😀 Not looking forward to optical cables hooked up to everything. 🙁

  4. If you watch the video, I can understand how embedding a high-speed data signal (“for free”) in existing light emitters (like street lamps or office lighting) could be useful. But networking needs to work on two directions. How do I send a light-based signal back, for example, if I need to send an email or text message, or upload a video to YouTube. Does my laptop have an LED on the back that is powerful enough for some distant sensor to detect…? 😉 Seems impractical in the real world.

    1. Yes, upload may be problematic. However, nothing is stopping a phone from using traditional radio-waves as a backup or as the upload mechanism and using light for high-speed utility.

    2. Great point but also consider that we typically consume (download) more than we create (upload). So if the download stream was managed using the light technology it would free up bandwidth for uploading using RF.
      Ultimately the tech will need to be refined and put into practice. Definitely a few years off but could work well.

  5. I assume you’ll still need some other connection to enable uploads, you’ll also need some sort of backup for when you have the lights off. Seems to be a rather specific set of circumstances where this would actually be useful.

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