10 January 2016

Li-Fi: Future of data transmission

Until recently, whenever people first heard the word ‘Li-Fi’ they thought it was a typo, and maybe the user actually meant Wi-Fi only. The concept of Li-Fi has recently gained popularity and it’s reasons are pretty obvious. For all the high speed-connectivity lovers, Li-fi came as a blessing. But don’t get excited just yet, lets shed some light on what this concept actually is.

Let’s start with basics..

  • ·        First occurrence: Term coined by professor Harald Hass from the University of Edinburgh, during TED talk in 2011.
  • ·        What?- Li-Fi aka Light fidelity, a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system running wireless communications travelling at very high speeds.
  • ·        How?- Enables data transfer using common household LEDs (light emitting diodes)
  • ·        Why?- boosts speeds up to 224Gb/s  (approximately 11000x times faster than the present speeds used in Wi-Fi)
  • ·        Where?- Can be used wherever visible light transmitters are present


The question that arises is what is so different about Li-Fi, when we already have Wi-Fi?
1.     Transmission: Li-Fi and Wi-Fi aren’t all that different when it comes to data transmission, they both use electromagnetic waves to do so. The difference being, Wi-fi uses radio waves and Li-Fi uses visible light.
2.     Device: contains
-a photo detector to receive light signals
-a signal processing element to convert the data into 'stream-able' content.
3.     Process: The constant current of electricity supplied to the LED lightbulb will be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye. These tiny changes during the rapid dimming of LED bulbs are then converted by the 'receiver' into an electrical signal. The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that we would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.


  • ·        Speed! – As already mentioned 224Gb/s is way faster than the normal Wi-fi speed of 20Mb/s (approximately 11000x times)
  • ·        Security- Light cannot pass through walls, this ensure greater security on local networks.
  • ·        Interference – Since light cannot pass through walls, there will also be less interference between devices


  • ·        Connectivity- Since light cannot pass through walls, capable LEDs will have to be places all around the house, to fully exploit the benefits of Li-Fi.
  • ·        Keeping lights on- Li-Fi won’t work unless the light bulbs is switched on, that means keeping the light bulbs on, during the daytime too!

"All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission," Haas said. "In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion Li-Fis deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even brighter future."

Li-Fi verdict

  • ·        In November 2015, pureLiFi and French lighting company Lucibel collaborated, aiming to bring out Li-Fi enabled products in 2016.
  • ·        PureLiFi already has two products in the market:

o   Li-Flame Ceiling Unit- used to connect to an LED light fixture and,
o    Li-Flame Desktop Unit- connects to a device via USB,
both aiming to provide light and connectivity in one device. 

The amalgamation of Internet of Things devices and Li-Fi will bring about an incredible boost in opportunities for various retailers and businesses alike. Whether or not Li-Fi will live up to everyone’s expectations is yet to be decided.