What is Li-Fi internet? 1GB/sec transfers speeds, 100 times faster than normal Wi-Fi

One of the most exciting technologies to emerge in recent years, Light Fidelity or (Li-Fi) uses light to transfer data at ridiculous speeds. How fast you ask? Back in February last year, scientists acheived speeds of up to a ridiculous 224GB/sec. In later “real-world” tests by the Estonian startup Vélmenni, transfer speeds were as high as 1GB per second – that’s up to 100 times faster than conventional Wi-Fi. While that figure is nowhere near the speeds seen in laboratory conditions, it’s still fast enough to download 4K video in seconds.

“We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilise the VLC (visible light communication) technology,” Vélmenni CEO Deepak Solank told IBTimes UK.

“Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light. We are also doing a pilot project with a private client, where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the internet in their office space.”

Li-Fi on the iPhone 7

New information suggests that Apple wants to include superfast Li-Fi internet in the iPhone 7. Code found by a Twitter user in iOS 9.1 refers to the new technology and had since been confirmed by AppleInsider. Apple tends to wait a while before introducing new technology to its products and Li-Fi is still in its testing stages. That would suggest it’s unlikely to feature on the iPhone 7. However, Apple is known to include and refer to future products when writing code. For example, rumours of the iPad Pro were strengthened by code found in earlier versions of iOS.

li-fi_internet_velmenni

So how does Li-Fi work?

Li-Fi transmits information in a binary fashion using light. But unlike Wi-Fi – which uses radio waves – Li-Fi creates a network using the visible light spectrum. Data is communicated through bulbs with rapid, imperceptible blinking – and the result is an even faster method of transfer.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve used light to transfer data. In fibre-optic cables, data is coded into light, and then transported along the cable using a series of internal reflections. The result? Fibre-optic cables can be faster than their conventional, copper counterparts – and because there is no loss to heat or resistance, it’s more efficient and stable too.

The technology was first invented by Professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh back in 2011, but it’s now being tested outside the lab.

Li-Fi in the home and office

Li-Fi does boast impressive speed, but it also comes with downsides. Unlike radio waves, light can’t go through walls – so connection ranges should be far smaller. Although that’s fine for an office context, it’s not ideal for home use.

Instead it looks like the technology will be popular in larger, more commercial settings. For example, airlines are reported to be considering the technology, both in planes and departure lounges.

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