LiFi: The Future of Wireless Communication
We are living in a time when technologies are proliferating in every sector and smart inventions are at an all-time high. The demand for wireless networks that can meet the never-ending need for data communication is growing exponentially. With the emergence of new advancements such as the Internet of Things and 5G, the world needs a more convenient and faster way of communicating data, one that is away from the Radio Frequency Spectrum.
Let’s talk about WiFi vs LiFi:
The youngest of the crowd today know that we access the internet via WiFi, more so, it even serves as a tactical marketing approach to attract customers across industries — broadly retail, hospitality, and the F&B domains. WiFi might as well be deemed critical to routines of large markets and household lifestyles around the world.
Here lies the problem — the number of internet users in the world is growing too fast too soon.
Today, Wifi carries over 60% of the world’s internet traffic.
Since Wifi uses Radio Frequency as a medium to commute data, it already interferes with electronic appliances and regular installations that slow down the transfer. But with such great load of data and growing users, the eventual outcome is congestion and choking of bandwidth in the available RF spectrum.
Needless to say, the number of internet users also goes up by the second. The way we access the internet is on the cusp of changing forever.
The world is being introduced to an entirely new technology; a confluence between two of man’s greatest inventions in recent centuries — Light and the Internet.
The future of wireless communication — LiFi, stands for light fidelity. It’s an emerging technology that enables faster data transfer with the help of visible light. And since it is independent of congested radio frequencies and interference from electromagnetic waves, it is capable of chasing 10 times the speed of current day data communication, through illumination. Interesting, isn’t it?
LiFi, also known as light fidelity, is a full duplex communication network enabling transmittal of data. The potency of bidirectional Visible Light Communication allows us to build an ideal medium, independent of congested radio frequencies and interference from electromagnetic waves, thus, resulting in faster data transfer.
About the Parallels Between LiFi and WiFi
If the term LiFi comes from the term WiFi, it is because there are number of similarities. These two technologies are competing with one another, but above all are complimentary. WiFi is based on radiofrequency waves and not on light.
WiFi spreads in all directions with spans of more than tens of meters. It can also go through obstacles such as walls. In contrast, LiFi must have line of sight and is guided, with a span of a number of meters.
In good conditions current WiFi can achieve download speeds of around 50MB/s. Current records show that LiFi in the laboratory attains 8GB/s, in other words 160 times faster (8GB/s = a few seconds transfer for 1 DVD). These figures are constantly updated!
HOW LiFi WORKS
LiFi requires visible light to transmit data.
The single access point (transceiver) incepts the data from the Power Over Ethernet cable & convert it into bits. Upon processing, it then modulates the bits as 1’s & 0s, dispatched with every single rapidly fleeting ray of light released by the LED. The LED acts as a medium & transfers the data to the receiver, in this case, the photodetector positioned inside the dongle. The dongle then demodulates the received data and completes the chain by sending it to the smart device through the USB. As for uploading the data, the same cycle is repeated inversely using Near Infrared Light through the dongle.
- SPECTRUM Providing 1,000 times more unlicensed spectrum than traditional wireless communication.
- BANDWIDTH Offering high-speed internet and data transfer which is 10 times faster than the traditional WiFi speed.
- SECURITY Light cannot trespass through the physical environment, enabling secure data passage.
- SAFETY The technology is environment-friendly and has immunity against electromagnetic inferences.
Real Life Usage of LiFi
LiFi is a powerful technology that can revolutionize the world of wireless communication. Many organizations and universities have started working on the research and development of LiFi. Few are working in the industry to run pilot projects on utilizing this technology. LiFi is a secure, faster and safer medium which when put into action will successfully fill the gaps in wireless data transmission created by Wifi.
LiFi applications are diverse due to their key characteristics, like energy efficiency, directional lighting, intrinsic security, high data rate capability, signal blocking by walls and integrated networking capability. Following are some examples of real-life usage of LiFi:
- Dense urban environments: Dense urban environments by their nature tend to own complete artificial lighting coverage. This lighting infrastructure will give the available high data rate access to users as they move through that setting. For instance, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, airports, etc. where a number of users can download, send, and receive data at a high speed. Moreover, high-speed wireless communication would be available in each room as the light waves will not propagate through walls, resulting in interference-free wireless communication.
- Underwater communication: Traditional Wi-Fi cannot be used underwater since radio waves get absorbed by the water. LiFi, on the other hand, uses light for data transmission. As visible light could penetrate deep into the water, LiFi can be used for underwater communication and will potentially change the way underwater vehicles and drivers communicate with each other.
- Augmented reality: Augmented reality is being employed in establishments like museums to reinforce the client experience. However, like many other services that are dependent upon Wi-Fi, the experience can be slow and sluggish as the number of people connected on the network increases. LiFi can easily solve this problem by providing each exhibit with its own data stream using a Led Powered light bulb.
- Aviation Industry: LiFi has great potential to revolutionize the aviation industry. Firstly it will solve the ‘congestion’ issues at airports and aircraft interiors, enabling people to enjoy seamless data streaming/ downloading. Secondly, as it does not interfere with radio frequency devices, it can be safely used in airline cabins.
- Hospitals & Healthcare: LiFi can also be safely used in many hospital applications like real-time monitoring and details of patient movement, to check the actual status of the prescriptions by patients on their smartphones, etc. without the need of wires.
- Security: In a meeting room environment, the access area of every channel is the width of the light pool, which can be accessed by multiple users. Each user will receive higher data rates than would be the case for an equivalent Wi-Fi channel. In the case of Wi-Fi, every user or cluster of users directly competes for access to bandwidth. The internet result is that the more the number of connections, the slower the download speeds are for all. In contrast, LiFi, with its greater number of available access points, each pool of light provides full channel data rates with fewer simultaneous users. Additionally, the light does not pass through the walls. Therefore, with the least precautions to avoid leakage from windows, etc., security is fundamentally enhanced as compared with Wi-Fi.
- Hazardous Environment: The use of cellphones is prohibited in places having dangerous explosive environments. The transmission of data using LiFi will simplify network configuration in such environments. Using LiFi’s new modes of securing such environments from potential hazards may also be developed and can enable new systems to enhance security in these environments.
Why should We look forward to LiFi?
LiFi comes across as the optimum solution when it comes to data’s security. Since light cannot trespass the physical environment, LiFi enables a secure data passage keeping the privacy intact.
LiFi technology is environment-friendly and cost-effective. It requires visible light to transmit data and needs fewer components as compared to radio technology. Thus, LiFi is cheaper than WiFi and surely has the potential to take over the wireless communication market in near future.
What is more fascinating is the magnitude of its application.
For starters, LiFi can help reintroduce indoor and outdoor light sources as the base for numerous IoT applications across enterprise/industrial environments and smart cities. The technology will also liberate hospitals, heavy industries, and educational institutions through safer and secure connectivity with no electromagnetic interferences whatsoever.
Apart from these domains, LiFi can be leveraged to power in-flight entertainment systems through Wireless Communication by simply using the wall/reading lamps. I think it is safe to say that this technology’s areas of application are endless.