December 10, 2015
A New type of wireless internet technology has been developed that could provide a connection that's 100 times faster than traditional WiFi. The tech is called Li-Fi, and was tested by an Estonian start-up called Velmenni, who are currently trailing it in offices.
Li-Fi has proved capable of sending data at speeds of up to 1GBps, around 100 times faster than most current Wi-Fi connections. At speeds like this, albums, high-definition films and even video games could be downloaded in a matter of seconds. The speed is down to the way in which it transmits data by using Visible Light Communication (VLC), data is sent between networks by LED lights that flicker incredibly fast.
The technology does have one major limitation as it relies on visible light to work, it can't pass through walls. However, this makes the network much more secure. The dramatically increased speeds make it a big improvement on current technology for some applications as well.
Professor Harald Haas, from the University of Edinburgh, pioneered the technology and coined the term Li-Fi in 2011, but this is the first time it's been used in a 'real world' setting. Deepak Solanki, CEO of Velmenni, told that the technology could be rolled out to consumers within the next three to four years.
However, due to Li-Fi's limitations, it would be likely to run in parallel with existing technology to increase a network's speed and efficiency. If the infrastructure catches up, Li-Fi could become much more widely used, especially if it's transmitted through our light bulbs, as Professor Haas suggested in a 2011 TED Talk.
As Haas said, "All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission.""In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion LiFis deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even brighter future."