Will Wi-Fi soon be a thing of the past?
11 Jun 2018
With the days of dial up connections long behind us, it's easy to forget how much our internet connections have advanced and we've all found ourselves in the situation where we're frustrated over internet speed issues. Could the answer lie with an alternative to Wi-Fi in the form of Li-Fi?
The term Li-Fi was first coined by Professor Harald Haas, a Professor of Mobile Communication at the University of Edinburgh. At the 2011 TED Global Talk he introduced the possibility of an internet connection using ultraviolet and infrared in addition to visible light communication as an alternative to Wi-Fi. The advantages of this alternative seem clear, with the bandwidth being much wider, and the speed therefore faster.
What's the difference?
Whilst both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi transmit data electromagnetically there are a number of differences. Wi-Fi uses radio waves, whilst Li-Fi runs on visible light waves - and this leads to a much wider bandwidth - and reported speeds of up to 100 times faster. At one time or another most households will have experienced the frustration of snail-speed connections and the likelihood is that the offering of a quicker connection will hold mass appeal.
What does it mean?
Li-Fi stands for Light Fidelity and runs using VLC (Visible Light Communications) which allow wireless communications to travel at very high speeds in comparison to Wi-Fi. Li-Fi uses LED light bulbs to allow data to transfer quickly with the use of a bulb as an alternative to a usual Wi-Fi router.
The Li-Fi system accommodates a photo-detector which is able to receive light signals alongside a processing element which converts data into streameable content.
Is it the future?
There are predictions the new homes may be built to depend on Li-Fi technology due to the level of security and connection speeds. A big security appeal will be that the possibility of remote hacking is removed as the light used cannot penetrate solid non-transparent surfaces such as walls or doors, although the downside would be that this would mean that access would be limited within a room and you wouldn't be able to move too far away from your hub and keep a connection. There are also advantages within certain more specialised fields such as underwater research or within the medical field with signals having little effect on neither medical instruments or the human body so there is potential for use within hospitals.
To sum up, we can see clear reasons why Li-Fi may appeal, especially for domestic use, and within certain areas of industry, however there are also the downsides where Wi-Fi, although slower can still provide a reliable connection. With developments happening all the time, alternatives to traditional Wi-Fi are evolving and this is certainly a space to watch.