Li-Fi enables wireless broadband at the speed of light

25 Nov 2015

A new technology that uses light to transmit data has been proven capable of sending data at 100 times the speed of Wi-Fi.

Office tests in Estonia by start-up Velmenni has shown that Li-Fi can achieve speeds of 1Gbps.

Li-Fi could be a potential solution to the struggle Wi-Fi is going to have to transport its share of the 35 quintillion bytes of information each month that will be in the world by 2019, according to the World Economic Forum.

One of the pioneers of Li-Fi is Harald Haas, who originated the technology in 2011. He currently holds the chair of mobile communications at the University of Edinburgh, and is co-founder and chief scientific officer of PureLiFi Ltd, as well as the director of the LiFi Research and Development Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

Haas’ group has published the first proof-of-concept results demonstrating that it is possible to turn commercially available light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs into broadband wireless transmission systems.

“It should be so cheap that it’s everywhere,” he said. “Using the visible light spectrum, which comes for free, you can piggy-back existing wireless services on the back of lighting equipment.”

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Oxford reached a milestone in networking by using Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) to achieve bi-directional speeds of 22Gbps per second – which would allow 18 movies of 1.5Gb to be downloaded in a single second.

Li-Fi trials in the real world

Estonian start-up Velmenni has created a smart LED bulb that can transfer data through visible light at speeds of 1Gbps.

“We are implementing the Li-Fi technology in our new range of LED bulbs,” the company said on its website.

“It refers to the wireless communication system, which uses light as a medium of transport instead of traditional radio frequencies. Although the use of light in order to transmit data can be limited in comparison to radio waves, there is a great amount of possibilities that can be developed with the proper use of this technology.”

Wireless computing image at top via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years