What is Li-Fi and How Does it Work?

When it comes to getting online in our homes and places of work, there’s one standard which has come to rule them all: Wi-Fi.

Coming after a decade of Ethernet cables and chunky laptops, Wi-Fi not only enabled us to get online in more places than ever before, but also heralded a transformation in consumer technology. After all, have you ever seen a smartphone with an Ethernet port?

All of which is to say that Wi-Fi has done a remarkable job in transforming our lives, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Most recently, that’s meant some incredible, borderline science-fiction advances. We speak, of course, about Li-Fi.

 

What is Li-Fi?

Li-Fi, or Light Fidelity, is a new Visible Light Communications (VLC) standard for wireless communications, designed to help data travel at unprecedented speeds. At a time when the fastest home wireless routers can transmit speeds up to 1.3Gbps, Li-Fi allows the transmission of data up to 224Gbps, all by using nothing but light. So how does it work?

Amazingly, Li-Fi uses common household LED lightbulbs to enable the high-speed transfer of data. That means that by utilising nothing but your lighting system, you could bathe your home, office or work space with incredible high speed broadband.

Though a young technology, Li-Fi has proven itself to be a worthy successor to common Wi-Fi, proliferating forward thinking office blocks and enabling incredible retail solutions.

 

What’s the science behind it?

Brace yourself, because things are about to get a little technical. However, if you know a little bit about how Wi-Fi works, you’re already on the right path. Why? Because Wi-Fi and Li-Fi are actually rather similar, as both transmit data electromagnetically.

The key difference comes from the fact that Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transmit, whilst Li-Fi uses visible light. The system accommodates a photo-detector to receive and decode the light signals (built or plugged in to your device) and a signal processing element to convert the raw data into stream-able information.

The signal processing element is embedded in the LED lightbulb, which makes use of LED lightbulbs unique properties. Specifically, it utilises the fact that LED lightbulbs are a semi-conductor light source. This means that the flow of electricity to an LED lightbulb can be raised and dipped at extremely high speeds, much faster than the human eye can process.

Together, this mean that an LED light bulb with signal processing technology built in can be fed raw data and spit out a stream of processed data to the photo-detector. From there, the signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that we can actually recognise, like the web, Netflix or any other application you might use the internet for.

 

Why would I use Li-Fi?

Li-Fi has a great many advantages over traditional Wi-Fi, not least its raw speed and convenience. However, for businesses, Li-Fi makes remarkable sense. With a reduction in infrastructure complexity and energy consumption levels, it saves money, and with the merger of lighting and wireless communication, your data is constrained by walls, helping to keep your data secure from external threats.

Its main advantage, however, is in the level of coverage you can achieve within a space. We all know the pain of an ever slowing Wi-Fi connection as family, friends, co-workers or customers, especially when you try to take that Wi-Fi up another floor or through a thick wall. Li-Fi enables superb uninterrupted speeds and supports multiple access, mobility, roaming. So, what are you waiting for?

 

If you’re looking for an architect for your office project, get in touch with us on 0117 971 3950 today.