For many of us WiFi is synonymous with broadband, but soon we might be using something called Li-fi.
Professor Hass, a leading physicist from Edinburgh University in the UK, has claimed that light bulbs can be used to broadcast wireless Internet. To switch on your Internet, all you need to do is turn on the lights. Li-fi or Light Fidelity is the name that he has given to the system, which, he says, can also be used to send wireless data from the White Space in the television spectrum or from unused satellite signals.
There are 1.4 million base stations boosting the signal in case of mobile phones, but much of the energy is used to keep the system cool. Hence the efficiency of this method of sending and receiving wireless data is only five per cent. By comparison there are 40 billion light bulbs in use across the world that are far more efficient. Professor Hass says that by replacing old-fashioned incandescent models with LED bulbs he could turn them all into Internet transmitters.
The invention is also being called D-Light, where D stands for data. It can be used to send data faster than 10 megabits per second, which is the speed of a typical broadband connection, by altering the frequency of the ambient light in the room. The system could be put to good use in hospitals, airplanes, military, and even underwater. In theory, aeroplane passengers could be able to surf the Internet from signals beamed out of the lights on board.
Professor Hass says, The way we transmit wireless data is inefficient electromagnetic waves, in particular radio waves which are limited, they are sparse, they are expensive and only have a certain range. It is this limitation, which does not cope with wireless data...and we are running out of efficiency. Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum...wouldnt it be great to use it for wireless communications?
Visible light spectrum has more than 10,000 times more space than radio waves, hence it is ideal to use for transmitting broadband signals. During a lecture professor Hass showed off a desk lamp, which had been fitted with an LED light bulb, which transmitted data to a receiver on the table below it. Whenever he put his hand in the beam of light, the video, which was beamed onto a screen behind him, stopped playing, as the signal was being blocked.
The technology has not yet been integrated with smart phone but Professor Hass hopes that soon it will be. Everywhere that there is light, these are potential sources for data transmission, he said. For me the applications of it are beyond imagination...all we need to do is to fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would combine illumination and data transmission, and this could solve the problems facing us in wireless communication.