• Thursday 22 August 2019

    The Technology behind LiFi

    Let's admit it. We are all dependent on the internet.

    The internet is the source of entertainment and income to a lot of people and without it, most of us would be imbalanced. In fact, research published by Direct Line by Opinium Research online found out that the internet has topped a list of modern-day essentials that their respondents can't live without. Almost half of the respondents (48%) stated that they could go longer without seeing their family than without being able to use the internet and 12% said that they could forgo food for longer than they could go without logging on to social media sites. This basically means that a lot of people consider the internet more important than food and family!

    It is undeniable that wireless data is an important commodity today but sadly, it is not unlimited. Radiofrequency, the technology that powers WiFi, is running out of spectrum to support the increasing number of consumer devices all around the globe. Experts believe that the radio frequency spectrum will not provide sufficient resources for wireless data traffic by 2025.

    Enter LiFi, a newly developed technology that makes use of the visible light spectrum to transmit and receive data.

    Definition of LiFi
    LiFi stands for Light Fidelity and it is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system which runs wireless communications that travel at very high speeds. Instead of using radio waves, it uses light from LEDs for data transmission.

    This technology was introduced to the public by Prof. Harald Haas during his TED Global talk in 2011. During the presentation, Haas used a table lamp with a LED bulb to play video of a blooming flower that was then projected onto a screen and he periodically blocked the light with his hand to show that the lamp was really the source of the data.

    Since then, a number of companies have commercialized the technology and LiFi products are now available for purchase.

    How Does LiFi Work?
    LiFi is possible through the use of a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system for data transmission which has two qualifying components:
    1. At least one device containing a photodiode in order to receive light signals; and
    2. A light source equipped with a signal processing unit for the transmission of signals.
    The most optimum VLC light source is LEDs (light-emitting diodes) because they can emit light in very narrow wavelengths. They are also semiconductors which means that the light they emit can be changed at extremely high speeds. This constant stream of photons emitted as visible light is what makes the transfer of information possible.

    The photodiode attached to the LED bulbs receives and demodulates the light frequency signal then converts it to a continuous stream of binary data that contain videos, images, audio, text, or applications that can be consumed on any internet-enabled device.

    LiFi technology is still at its early development stages and researchers are still working hard for its improvement. The technology has plenty of potential and light fidelity could potentially be the solution to the increasing demand for high-speed data.

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