Li-Fi — that just-over-the-horizon wireless technology which could transform your everyday LED lighting fixtures into 10 Gbps wireless modems — has a lot of people talking these days. With a commercial product promised later this year and the tech already in beta, we might all be trippin' the lamplight fantastic real soon.
But other than really, really awesome movie streaming speeds, what do we care? According to its inventor Harald Haas, Li-Fi offers a bundle of niche applications that regular Wi-Fi just doesn't measure up to. Here are a few of those unique benefits.
How Li-Fi Works
The basic principle of Li-Fi is this: visible light has 10,000 times as broad a spectrum as the radio frequencies which Wi-Fi uses, allowing for much more bandwidth, once tapped. This is accomplished by the flickering of LED lightbulbs to create binary code (on = 1, off = 0), and is done at higher rates than the human eye can detect. The more LEDs in your lamp, the more data it can process.
A side effect of Li-Fi is that your power cord immediately becomes your data stream, so if you have power, you have Internet. The only infrastructure is an equipped lightbulb. Your internet provider doesn't even need to bring you a box, they just connect you to their power-grid-mounted signal relays, and you're online.