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LiFi: What It Is and How It Works

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Originally, the internet was made to connect laboratories that did government research and it has now expanded to serve millions of people all around the world.

Today, we are living in a world that is constantly plugged in. In fact, there are approximately 4.39 billion internet users in 2019 and wireless connectivity a huge role in all of our digital lives.

The Problem
Due to the high demand for wireless connectivity, there arose a phenomenon called the spectrum crunch. Spectrum crunch refers to the potential lack of sufficient wireless frequency spectrum needed to support a growing number of consumer devices.

It is predicted that there will be 10 billion IoT devices by 2020, 3 billion more than the Earth’s population. And that number is expected to rise to 22 billion by 2025! Because of this, numerous organizations have tried to come up with a way on how to circumvent this issue.

The Birth of LiFi
Professor Harald Haas introduced LiFi during his TED Global Talk in 2011 where he discussed the idea of "wireless data from every light".  He gave a demonstration of a Li-Fi prototype during his talk where he used a table lamp with an LED bulb to transmit a video of a blooming flower that was then projected to a screen. During the presentation, Professor Haas periodically blocked the light from the lamp with his hand to show that the lamp was indeed the source of the data.

Since then, he has received global recognition for his work on the technology and he is now considered the "Father of LiFi".

As stated above, the reliability of signals is bound to suffer due to the increase in the volume of WiFi traffic. LiFi is the perfect solution to this problem since it makes use of the underutilized visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. With this technology, transceivers can be fitted to LED lamps and when turned on, those lights become capable of transmitting and receiving information.

The Advantages of LiFi
The developers of this new technology declare the following advantages of LiFi.
  • High Speeds - The frequency of the radio waves used in WiFi is of order 5GH whereas LiFi has a frequency of about 500THz. That's about 10,000 times more than Wifi!
  • Street Lamps - Every street lamp can be converted into a free data access point.
  • Spectrum Relief - The issues of the shortage of radio frequency bandwidth can be sorted out by LiFi.
  • Airlines - LiFi can be used safely in aircrafts without affecting airline signals.
  • Underwater - LiFi can be used for undersea explorations since WiFi does not work underwater.
  • Healthcare - LiFi can be integrated into medical devices and in hospitals.
  • Efficiency - LiFi is more efficient when it comes to cost and power consumption.
  • Security - LiFi makes use of the visible light spectrum. This means that it cannot penetrate walls and other optically opaque objects making unauthorized access impossible.
  • Availability - Wherever there is an LED bulb, LiFi can also exist.

Mark Rodgers

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.