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New light-based Li-Fi technology promises to be 100 times faster than Wi-Fi

A new type of Internet technology called Li-Fi, uses light to connect users to the internet and share data using light sources such as lamps.

Li-Fi technology can serve serves to allow users to share files and data through the internet without a Wi-Fi connection, modem, or 3G card. It has the advantage of being useful in electromagnetic sensitive areas such as in aircraft cabins, hospitals and nuclear power plants without causing electromagnetic interference.

A view of a Li-Fi technology system on display at the FranceTelevisions stand inside the LeWeb Paris technology fair in 2012, in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, France. AFP PHOTO
A view of a Li-Fi technology system on display at the FranceTelevisions stand inside the LeWeb Paris technology fair in 2012, in Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, France. AFP PHOTO

Invented by Professor Harald Haas, from the University of Edinburgh, who also coined the term, Li-Fi is a subset of optical wireless communications (OWC), which uses light from LED lights as as a medium to deliver networked, mobile, high-speed communication in a similar manner to Wi-Fi.

Also known as visible light communications (VLC), this technology began with an internet speed of two Gigabits per second, which works by switching bulbs on and off within nanoseconds, which is too quick to be noticed by the human eye.

Both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi transmit data over the electromagnetic spectrum, but whereas Wi-Fi utilizes radio waves, Li-Fi uses visible light, which is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum. Data rates of over 10 Gbit/s have been achieved during a 2014 research by a Mexican tech firm on Li-Fi speed, which is much faster than typical fast broadband. It's also expected to be ten times cheaper than Wi-Fi.

Recently an Estonian tech company installed Li-Fi in its offices where they measured speeds of up to 224 Gbit/s per second during testing and 1 gigabit per second in a real life setting, where transmissions are generally affected by light interference and movement.

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