Technology

How LiFi will make common WiFi problems obsolete

Light fidelity (LiFi) is a faster, more secure and efficient wireless connection that uses light waves to transmit data

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LiFi is poised to make many WiFi problems obsolete from slow connections and unstable wireless connections to health concerns, restricted use, and inefficient power consumption.

LiFi (Light Fidelity) is a wireless connection that uses light waves, instead of radio waves, to transmit data.

In 2011 professor Harald Haas first introduced the world to LiFi in his Ted talk. Haas spoke about the possibility of every lightbulb in the world being able to transmit data.

Fast forward to 2020, and LiFi has been used in an Air France flight, and Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) has announced a deal with Vodafone to develop LiFi technology in conjunction with 5G.

Slow loading speeds

While the effects of 5G are yet to be felt, LiFi is already making waves (pun intended) as a possible booster for the latest generation of wireless internet. 5G currently tops out at 10 gigabits per second, whereas LiFi has achieved speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second in lab testing at the University of Oxford.

5G currently tops out at 10 gigabits per second, whereas LiFi boasts speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second.

One of the biggest problems solved by LiFi then is slow WiFi connections. By layering LiFi on top of the newly-rolled out 5G, people have internet speeds increased more than 100 times over.

This faster connection means better service quality and dramatically clearer communication.

Moreover, compared to WiFi connections, the high peak data rates of LiFi can enable up to 100 more devices at a time.

Subsequently, LiFi has huge potential to facilitate the IoT (Internet of Things) and interconnectivity between devices.

Non-secure wireless connections

LiFi also offers a more secure wireless connection than router-based connections. LiFi utilises the visible light spectrum, and because light can be confined in a physical space, LiFi has fewer opportunities for signals to be intercepted.

Physical objects blocking light serve as barriers to hackers or malware hijacking a LiFi connection.

Physical objects blocking light serve as barriers to hackers or malware hijacking a LiFi connection.

In addition to these literal blocks, the same security protocols for WiFi connections can also be leveraged in LiFi systems.

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Health concerns & restricted usage

Beyond internet security, there are also claims that LiFi does not pose any of the health concerns like the ones previously associated with 5G.

Radiofrequency radiation generated by 5G networks has raised concerns about causing cancer and permanent cell damage in humans.

In contrast, LiFi transmits data through light waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, so is completely free from harmful radiofrequency radiation.

Similarly, LiFi technology can be used in environments where WiFi is considered a hazard.

Petrol stations and petrochemical plants have strict rules about not using WiFi or mobile phones due to the possibility of radio waves igniting petrol vapour.

Again, because LiFi doesn’t operate on the radio frequency band, wireless connectivity powered by light can be used in these places.

Inefficient power consumption

Another problem LiFi aims to combat is inefficient power consumption.

LiFi requires no additional hardware, simply household LED lights. These LED lights last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use at least 75% less energy.

With LiFi, light bulbs have two roles. The first, to illuminate a space. The second, to power a wireless connection.

By consolidating energy sources into one item, users can reduce both their energy consumption and energy costs.

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The future of LiFi

The capacity for LiFi to be adopted on a global scale is surprisingly easy. As billions of LED lights are already used in homes across the world, these homes are (perhaps unknowingly) readily-equipped for the technology.

However, it’s important to note that LiFi is not intended to replace WiFi, but rather enhance it.

The complimentary layer can support both mobile wireless networks and enterprise networks, and according to a report by Global Market Insights, it is set to be worth $9 billion by 2023.

The global LiFi market is set to be worth $9 billion USD by 2023.

Currently, companies with a noteworthy market share in LiFi include Nakagawa Laboratories, Oledcomm, LVX System, and ByteLight.

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Grace Brennan
Grace is a writer from the UK, interested in the changing relationship between technology and humans. She loves transforming difficult subjects into digestible stories.