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What’s Li-Fi Technology & Will We Ever Use It?

The advent of, and advances in, LED technology have now made it possible to transmit data via light impulse using what scientists are calling Li-Fi – wireless optical networking technology, or Light Fidelity – and now the question is how long it’s going to take to get to market.</br></br>The technology is new, but the components have been around for a while, which is what makes Li-Fi researchers confident that it’s only a matter of time before we can <a title="IEEE Spectrum" href="http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/lifi-gets-ready-to-compete-with-wifi" target="_blank">use LED lights to access the Internet</a>.</br></br><strong>Li-Fi vs. Wi-Fi</strong></br></br>You might have to be a scientist to understand how Li-Fi works, but you don’t need to be one to guess that it has the potential to be way faster than Wi-Fi. But, how much faster, you ask?</br></br>It depends on the technology. The so-called “standard” Li-Fi connection using commercial LED emitters can transmit data at 10 Gb/s (gigabytes per second), nearly 50 percent faster than Wi-Fi’s max 7 Gb/s rate. But, by using lasers, <a title="IEEE Spectrum" href="http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/laser-lifi-could-blast-100-gigabits-per-second" target="_blank">scientists say they could someday boost data transmission to a blistering 100 Gb/s</a>.</br></br><strong>Faster Li-Fi Communications  </strong></br></br>Obviously, this could shed a whole new light on how we communicate; or, more precisely, how fast we communicate. It’s uncertain we would see adaptation on mobile devices (signal sources and receiver technology may be more difficult), but it could revolutionize office and home computer use overnight.</br></br>Now, imagine a computer that receives its Internet transmission via the LED lights in your home that could present at least one problem. Namely: What if it’s dark, or what if you don’t want the lights on?</br></br>Science has yet to reply.</br></br><strong>Li-Fi Industry Impact</strong></br></br>The aforementioned problem could be Wi-Fi’s saving grace, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A blend of the two technologies could improve service for consumers while avoiding a drastic market upset that leaves Wi-Fi in the dust.</br></br>But, LED manufacturers and the lighting industry as a whole are preparing advances that would help them overcome these hurdles. According to Professor Harald Haas, <a title="The Skinny" href="http://www.theskinny.co.uk/tech/features/light-fidelty-an-interview-with-prof-harald-haas" target="_blank">a primary Li-Fi developer and creator of the term</a>, there are ways to use light transmission with our existing infrastructure (e.g. streetlights) to create a hyper-connected LED network.</br></br>So, if you’re not on the LED bandwagon yet, you may have a new reason to jump aboard – your lighting may end up being the pathway to the Internet of everything.
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