Imagine a work environment where all you need are the overhead lights to connect to the internet. Sounds bizzare, doesn’t it? Well not so much to Mr.Harald Hass, the co-founder of a company called Pure LiFi. Mr.Hass has been working on this at Edinburgh University for some years and is now running Pure LiFi to try and commercialise the technology.

LiFi is basically a wireless optical networking technology that uses light-emitting diodes for data transmission. Albeit the technology is called Visible light communication(VLC), Mr.Hass coined the word Li-Fi at a

TED talk in 2011.

LiFi signals work by switching bulbs on and off very quickly- too quickly to be noticed by naked eye. You switch off the light, you send byte 0. You switch on the light, you send byte 1. That’s the basic math behind it. This most recent break through is built upon by using tiny micro-LED bulbs to stream several lines of data in parallel.

Many experst claim that this technology represents the future of mobile internet all because of its reduced costs and g

reater efficiency when compared to the WiFi.

To test the theory of this technology, Mr.Hass and his team which included some of his former doctoral students took their equipment to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They set up two laptops on a table, one with a conventional internet connection, linked to a piece of kit which is in turn connected to a conventional light fitting. The other computer has a bulky unit attached to it, effectively a light receiver. The data is conveyed to one computer to the other by flickering data very rapidly (kind of like morse code, but in a very sophisticated way.)

The theory worked! The second laptop streamed a video that buffered and halted when the light was blocked off completely. Impressive, don’t you think?

But the technology isn’t quite ready to be out in the real world. The bulky receiver is very far from being a finished product. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but the team believes that with enough investment they will be able to miniaturise this process so that it will be a 1-square centimetre device that can be fitted into any smartphone.

There are a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages associated with this new technology.

Both WiFi and LiFi transmit data over the electromagnetic spectrum, but whereas WiFi uses the radio waves, LiFi uses visible light. This is a clear advantage any day because of the fact that visible light is far more plentiful than the radio also achieves greater data intensity.

LiFi technolofy when used in labs with brilliant equipments has been tested to achieve a speed of 10Gigabits per second(10Gbps) too. (wow! Imagine that speed!)

One draw-back is that the data receiver would have to be in sight of the transmitter-bulb as visible light does not penetrate solid materials. But this again can be a advantage in some ways. Since light generated internet connections don’t travel through walls, they

can’t be easily intercepted like the WiFi signals.

All said and done, it sure is an enthralling vision but work galore needs to be done before we can all flick a ght to get connected to an internet connection.


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shruti jain

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