Introduction to Li-Fi Technology



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Internet. The bane of our very existence. You can’t live without it, and yet somehow, it makes accomplishing simple tasks so much more difficult. Special thanks to Facebook for that. And Tumblr. And Pinterest.Enough said.

Also, remember Wi-Fi? The wireless technology that’s made our lives so much more fun and way easy. It’s almost terrifying to think of simpler times-when only one person could use the Internet at a time and your elder sibling would hog it all the time? And to think of restaurants and cafes without Wi-Fi??? The very thought fills me with trepidation.

Well, as easy our lives have become thanks to Wi-Fi, one has to admit it’s quite frustrating fighting the several other devices connected to the network. Free Wi-Fi is fun, but a slow one? It’s your worst nightmare come true.

Enter Li-Fi, another wireless communication technology which is expected to take over Wi-Fi soon. Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves for communication, Li-Fi is based on visible light communication. Now, a teeny tiny fact – the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum. So, while Wi-Fi is close to achieving its full capacity, Li-Fi’s capacity is virtually untapped. Pretty smooth, huh?

So what is visible light communication and how does it work? Well, it’s a system which uses the light from Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) as a medium for communication. The LED’s act as both the emitters and photodiodes to detect the light. The LED bulbs are switched on and off  with a speed that the human eye cannot detect.

That’s the boring stuff though. The interesting part is how Li-Fi has a transmitting speed in terms of Gigabytes per second. No, I’m not messing with you. Turns out, Li-Fi claims to have a wider Bandwidth and a much quicker response time. So, you can stop picturing kicking your colleagues everytime they hog the network with their incessant downloads. In addition to being much faster, Li-Fi ranks higher in the security zone as well. Guaranteed, that dampens the fun a little bit for hackers, but on paper, that’s quite nice.

Alas, a major shortcoming the Li-Fi currently battles with is shorter range of communication. Light waves cannot penetrate walls and hence the range of communication is shorter as compared to Wi-Fi. Also, although, Li-Fi is supposed to be ten times cheaper than Wi-Fi, the former has quite high installation costs and ranks lower in the reliability area.

Nonetheless, Li-Fi is currently in the development zone and is being implemented quite successfully in aircraft cabins, hospitals and nuclear power plants and is predicted to arrive in our households quite soon.

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