A spin out business from the University of Edinburgh named Visible Light Communications is to launch the first ever ‘Li-Fi’ technology. Visible Light Communications believe that they have created a technology that can turn make a localised data communications centre out of a light source. If this can be realised, it will have revolutionary consequences!
The chief executive of Visible Light Communications, Dr Gordon Povey, commented: “Our research has shown that, using LED light as the carrier, we can achieve data rate speeds well in excess of current Wi-Fi configurations”. Whilst the notion of transmitting data through the visible light spectrum is not original in itself, the development of a super-high-speed transmission using just an off-the-shelf light bulb certainly is. The ‘Li-Fi’ technology that Visible Light Communications is developing permits light to modulate at so fast a speed that it is unnoticed by the human eye yet can be picked up by receivers at speeds of hundreds of megabytes per second which enables the light source to transmit data.
That Li-Fi could replace Wi-Fi is not improbably as Povey notes: “The long-term potential for Li-Fi over Wi-Fi is one that cannot be ignored”. Li-Fi could herald a new era in which the world’s dependence upon radio waves is broken, to be replaced by light waves. Povey said: “At the rate we currently adopt wireless data, we will ultimately run out of radio spectrum as we cope with the long-term demand of wireless data transmissions and the trillions of bytes of data communicated each month”.
As mentioned, the notion of ‘Li-Fi’ predated the work of Visible Light Communications. Indeed, one must not look to Visible Light Communications for the source of the term ‘li-fi’ but instead to Harald Haas who gave a TED Global talk on the notion of Visible Light Communication. The Li-Fi Consortium was formed in October 2011 by a number of industry groups and c companies, to promote high-speed wireless systems. The Li-Fi Consortium pushed for the exploitation of a completely different part of the electromagnetic spectrum to the limited amount of raido-based wireless spectrum currently used. The first time ‘Li-Fi’ technology was demonstrated was at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A pair of Casio smartphones was used to exchange data solely via the light of varying intensity that was given from the phones’ screens.
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