Shine Bright Like a Li-Fi

Nov 27, 2015
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by James Miotto

A new era of wireless communication, say goodbye to your slow broadband connection struggling to stream the latest series on Netflix and say hello to HD movies within seconds.

Scientists have developed a new form of wireless communication for computers which is said to be 100 times faster than Wi-Fi – movie lovers rejoice.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that this advancement is catalysed by a… light bulb.

Li-Fi: A light bulb for all to love

Li-Fi is a wireless internet technology that rapidly transmits data using flickering LED light fields. The process behind the mechanics of the innovation is referred to as ‘Visible Light Communication’ (VLC), which mirrors the concept of morse-code in that it mimics the process of switching a light on and off in a specific pattern that relays a message – where the LED light flicks at such a high rate it enables users to write and transmit things in binary code.

The technology was recently tested by researchers at Estonian hardware startup Velmenni in a commercial context, trialing it in offices and industrial environments. The tests were a success, finding transmission speeds of 1 gigabits per second, 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.


Chief executive, Deepak Solanki, told IBTimes UK that their team have “designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light”. Efforts have also been allocated to a pilot project with a private client “where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the internet in their office space”, he said. The tech company claimed that the breakthrough in the field of VLC, titled Velmenni Jugnu, could shatter existing Wi-Fi limitations.

A Mere Light bulb

Accompanying these developments, the researchers have constructed a series of smart LED bulbs – named “Jugnu” – which transfers data through visible light (invisible to the human eye).

Velmenni stated that “we are implementing the Li-Fi technology in our new range of LED bulbs”. The need for light bulbs as a medium for transmission is due to the fact that Li-Fi is dependent on light as a transmitter, as opposed to traditional radio frequencies.

Dependent on light? There must be catch

As advanced as the operating system is, it is reliant on light, which basically means that the information cannot travel through walls. That can’t be that big of an issue… can it?

Well at least your neighbours won’t be free riding on your connection anymore, however, bad news for those who love to stream movies in their bedroom.

One thing that was made clear by researchers in their unveiling of grand plans for Li-Fi, was that it won’t completely replace Wi-Fi. It will most likely supplement the existing technology, meaning you shouldn’t count out your router’s ability just yet.

Where’s the closest light bulb store?

Don’t be too quick to stock up on LED bulbs. The concept is still in trial, with Velmenni acknowledging that widespread supply of the technology is not coming anytime in the near future.

Deepak Solanki, Velmenni’s CEO stated that the infrastructure required to support a Li-Fi system isn’t prevalent enough. Not yet.

The avenue required for a widespread distribution and adoption of the technology is quite simple, all the tech company needs to do is “fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combined two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission”. Nonetheless, the prospect of transforming each and every light bulb into transmitters is not attainable within societies current structure. The venture proves to be very difficult in that it would require Velmenni to create a whole new infrastructure for Li-Fi, in order to integrate the Li-Fi system with the current system.

Unfortunately you’re going to have to wait a bit longer to shine bright with Li-Fi.

Let us know your thoughts on the proposed Li-Fi system by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

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