In a world where being connected to the Internet is less of a luxury and more of a requirement for many, it is no surprise that the WiFi speeds are beginning to slow. As more and more people use WiFi and begin to overuse networks in highly populated areas the speeds will begin to decrease and the rate of annoyance among users will increase exponentially. Universities, restaurants, airports, even hospitals are beginning to notice that the load speed and connectivity is exponentially decreasing. So as is with every other technological advance, the advancement is never finished. Once a new discovery is made and the minute it is implemented, we begin to find ways to make the technology even better. But I am getting ahead of myself. So first of all, what is Li-Fi? The principle of Li-Fi is fairly simple: Li-Fi stands for light fidelity. Now, before we can understand how Li-Fi is possible, we must first understand how Wi-Fi transmits internet and data to your smart devices. Simply put, Wi-Fi uses radio frequency to transmit data from a router, and the signal radiates out from that point typically in a cone shape - which is where the symbol for Wi-Fi comes from. Li-Fi, on the other hand sounds a bit more complicated, but is actually fairly straightforward. Through a system called the Visible Light System or VLC, visible light is used to transmit data and the internet signal to your device. Signals transmitted using light are considerably stronger, safer and more powerful than radio wave transmissions, making Li-Fi potentially stronger and faster than our old friend, Wi-Fi. So with the flick of a lightswitch, you will be able to stream, surf, and post at speeds previously thought to be impossible. According to early reports of testing of this technology, you could expect to have download and streaming speeds up to 100x faster than even the best Wi-Fi connection.
But what is the reality of the situation? With all the news about technological advancements that never see the light of day hitting the newsstands each day, is this technology a reality or some far flung dream that we may never see? According to pureLiFi founder, Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, it is not only possible but necessary as we enter into this new digital age. Haas believes that LiFi can not only improve speeds, but it will also exponentially improve efficiency, speed and capacity for users. With all this positivity, who could say anything negative? Though this is overall hailed to be one of greatest modern technological advancements in Internet connectivity for all, there are still a few critics of this technology. The biggest concern being that this technology would not be able to work when the lights are on. However, according to Haas this is actually a misconception. And this all has to do with how humans perceive light. Though you may not be able to perceive the light as being on, but the technology developed by Haas’s company allows the signals to be sent with light visibility down to 60 Lux- basically, the lights will seem to be off to our eyes, but the technology will still be able to respond to a signal.
Closing Remarks This technology is not only incredibly significant but offers up a positive advancement in data streaming security and overall consumer use. The visible light technology is much less susceptible to outside interference than radio waves have been known to be, and Li-Fi signals cannot be sent through walls. Bottom line: there will be a lesser or no chance that your neighbors will be hijacking your Internet. If this Li-Fi technology becomes the worldwide success Haas hopes it to be, it will also aid in a reduction in energy usage by allowing LEDs to be dimmed when you don’t need a faster connection and will cause LEDs to become dual purpose tools.
Though the immediate inconvenience of having to alter some of the current wiring in order to adapt lights to this technology, it is clear that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. And this technology wouldn’t simply change the connectivity ability for regular, everyday consumers - it will also change the world for businesses large and small. In speaking with a friend of mine who runs an eBay store, having a stronger connection and a safer portal for when she makes her transactions and sales, she would be able to exponentially increase her business’s potential. The other large market this technology would help is children in schools. With how dependent schools have become on technology and the Internet as a teaching aide, it is remarkable how many schools are still without the proper equipment in order to serve their large populations - especially in the lower income and disenfranchised communities. With lights not only shining a light in classrooms but also sending signals to devices, teachers can rest easy from the thought of losing service during an online quiz or examination.
This technology is not only feasible and realistic it is also simple to use and easily adaptable. As this technology is polished and getting ready for consumer use, I would not be surprised if in the next few years I will be connected to the Internet from my standing Target lamp.