Li-Fi: WiFi From A Lightbulb

The use of light bulbs for wi-fi connectivity is one step closer according to new findings from Chi Nan, an IT professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

optical fiber

Nan told Xinhua News that a microchipped bulb has the ability to produce data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second (Mbps). Researchers claim that a one-watt LED light bulb would provide net connectivity to four computers.

However there has been no supporting video or photos to back these claims up, sparking questions as to the validity of the findings.

Back in 2011, Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh demonstrated how an LED bulb fitted with signal processing technology could stream high-definition video to a computer. Following that he created the term “light fidelity” or li-fi and set up a company named PureVLC in order to make use of the technology.

A spokesperson from PureVLC said of the latest findings: “We’re just as surprised as everyone else by this announcement, but how valid this is we don’t know without seeing more evidence. We remain sceptical.”

More Efficient

Despite the sceptism, li-fi still promises to be cheaper and more efficient due to the fact that LED bulbs are universal and the lighting infrastructure is already in place.

Compared to the radio spectrum, visible light which is part of the electromagnetic spectrum is 10,000 times bigger and therefore has potential unlimited capacity.

By blocking the light, the signal is blocked. Although this is a possible drawback, it also has its advantages. Because light cannot penetrate walls, it would make it near enough impossible for drive-by hackers to use others people’s internet.

Professor Chi has admitted that the technology still needs further developments in microchip design and communication controls but the team is hoping to show off sample li-fi kits at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai on 5 November.

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