Researchers turn lights into world's fastest wireless with Li-Fi

Researchers turn lights into world's fastest wireless with Li-FiThe future of wireless broadband is here, and it may or may not give you a headache. The flicker in your office lighting may someday soon be caused by data transmissions and not faulty fluorescent bulbs.

Professional Engineering reports that researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed a wireless networking system that can handle up to 130 megabits per second of data transfer using light instead of radio waves. The system, dubbed "Li-Fi," uses LEDs to transmit data to photo-sensor receivers by making changes in the intensity of light that researchers claim are so fast they are imperceptible to the human eye.

Harald Haas, a German physicist and the University of Edinburgh's professor of mobile communications, told Professional Engineering that his incubator company Pure VLC was developing a "smart lighting" kit that would make it possible to use existing lighting systems to transmit and receive data, reaching network speeds of up to 50 megabits per second. He added that he and his team were working in the lab to develop a Li-Fi system that could handle up to a gigabit per second of network traffic.

Haas outlined the idea in a TEDGlobal talk last summer, and demonstrated an early version of the technology using a desk lamp to stream a high definition video. Haas said that he hopes the technology can be integrated into mobile devices eventually, even harnessing the device's camera as a data port for downloads.

Li-Fi has some obvious advantages, including its broader potential spectrum for transmissions—over 10,000 times more spectrum than radio—allowing for thousands of signal channels in the same space, as well as its greater transmission speed as a result. Li-Fi is also relatively secure—it only works within line of sight, so it could be used to provide wireless connectivity in rooms without fear of signal leakage to an eavesdropper outside.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: technologies

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