LiFi: light-based broadband puts WiFi in the shade
New technology that turns light bulbs into transmitters could revolutionise web access
BRITISH scientists say that light bulbs could one day replace wireless modems, providing ultra-fast internet access in the home.
Researchers have reported transmission speeds of 10Gbit/s - more than 250 times the speed of Britain’s current top broadband connection, reports the Independant.
LiFi, or visible light communications (VLC), replaces the radio waves used by WiFi with streams of light from LED bulbs.
"If you think of a shower head separating water out into parallel streams, that's how we can make light behave," said professor Harald Haas (above), a project leader from Edinburgh University.
The bulbs flicker on and off extremely rapidly - so fast, in fact, that they appear constantly lit to the human eye. The flickering lights transmit the stream of ones and zeros that make up web data more efficiently than WiFi radio waves can manage.
As well as boosting web speeds, LiFi could be useful in situations where traditional WiFi connections are banned, such as in hospitals or onboard aircraft.
The technology is not without drawbacks. Given light’s inability to penetrate solid surfaces, the transmitter and receiver have to be aligned in order to establish a connection.
In some circumstances, that restriction could turn into an advantage. It would, for example, help prevent the hacking of home networks by so-called broadband ‘piggy-backers’. ·