LiFi: Future Role in Wireless Communication

WiFi vs LiFi

Written By Sarah Ouwendyk


May 10, 2017

Explaining LiFi

Imagine having high-speed data transmitted by the light bulbs above your head.  This is exactly what Harald Haas has created.  He named it Light Fidelity, or LiFi.  This communication system is created by adding a lamp driver microchip to an LED Light Bulb.  Using Morse-code like pulses, the microchip can send secure signals from an LED bulb to a photoconductor and corresponding processor at a rate of 224 gigabits per second.  of IBTimes UK compares this to eighteen 1.5 GB movies being downloaded every second.  In my mind, that covers The Godfather, Terminator, and the Halloween series being made available for my viewing pleasure EVERY second.  Surely that solves the upcoming capacity problem.

What does the future of wireless communication look like? Will it be LiFi or will it stay WiFi?

LiFi offers a brand-new type of telecommunications connection but why do we need it?   In this age of information a saturation point is fast approaching with so much technology on a limited number of cellular base stations.   Different platforms for every day wireless communication are limited to operating over radio waves.  Now a new platform that uses the visible light of the electromagnetic spectrum can solve the issue of bandwidth availability.  In a world saturated with radio waves, LiFi is a welcome alternative.  Using the light spectrum is harmless and offers ten thousand times more frequency than radio.  Perhaps there will be less tripping and crossing of proverbial wires when not only the capacity, as mentioned before, but the range is opened wide.  This is only the beginning.  There are other benefits to this new communication as well.

A few advantages 

Take a closer look at what it has to offer.  How about increased security and capacity for information?  Lifi is the unseen hero here as well.  The signals remain securely between the walls in which the system is set.  Many industries could highly benefit from this added security.  With a much broader spectrum there is a benefit as well.  It is all about exploiting huge data transfer with less interference.  This is comparable to having an open ocean of downloading potential instead of just a highway.  Speaking of oceans, even the US Navy is investing in LiFi for its use in seawater since underwater light travels better than radio waves.  There is more to discuss on this application later.

Where does the impact become most clear?

Aside from the increased security of and capacity for sensitive information, LiFi also offers an element of safety.  Airplane cabins, hospitals, or petrochemical plants could use it to work around the radio-sensitive electronic equipment commonly required. Monitoring a patients vitals or a hazardous work environment could be done without interfering with humans or equipment.  Even the possibility of skipping over having to turn a mobile device to airplane mode is creeping into reality.

Some of the limitations

The benefits are obvious but what are the limitations?  It has a very short transmission distance, about a third of WiFi requiring a signal amplifier for distances over 30 meters.  This stands true for watery conditions as well.  Underwater light cannot penetrate beyond a thousand meters let alone stand up to the darkness 200 meters of ocean creates.  Under evaluation, benefits’ point to disadvantage and the double edge sword of LiFi is exposed.  The walls of the space define where the system is active.  This means once it is begun there is no continuing your 18 movie marathon download across the street.

Feasibility of LiFi increases when used to enhance WiFi

Ideally LiFi will work in unison with WiFi.  The two systems are complimentary with their purpose.  Installing a multi-channel receiver, with capabilities much like a Smart WiFi Toggler, would allow a switch to be made between each type of ‘fidelity’ when conditions require it.  In concert, these technologies could be a game changer when our LED lights and routers play together to meet our needs in this wide open world of information.


For an introduction to this new technology, click here to enjoy Harald Haas widely popular TED Talks presentation.  Further understanding and updates on available technology are presented by the company behind it all, pureLiFi.

Credit goes to the following articles on Lifi for providing clarification on this future in wireless communication.

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