The on-going technological development and the strategies put in place to adopt digital innovations have highlighted a new solution that would be able in the long term to replace the Wi-Fi with innovative wireless technology that uses light waves emitted by a LED bulb to transmit data and information, instead of radio waves: the Li-FI (or Light Fidelity).
Thanks to its unique features such as the speed of data transmission, wireless connection in the absence of radio waves, extreme security and accuracy, this technology could soon come to replace Wi-Fi in different application areas, especially indoors environments. The advantages of Li-Fi over Wi-Fi are considerable, such as the ability to offer greater bandwidth, efficiency, availability and security, as well as faster data transfer.
So how does the Light Fidelity work? In this article of the JOurnal we will analyse, in addition to the advantages and disadvantages, the possible fields of application identified so far.
WHAT IS THE LI-FI
The term Li-Fi was first used in 2011 by a university professor, Harald Haas, during a speech on Visible Light Communication at TED Global, the annual conference dedicated to innovation and creativity. Li-Fi is presented as a form of visible light communication attributable to wireless optical communications (OWC).
In the face of the exponential growth of connected objects and devices, Wi-Fi is no longer able to support high increases in traffic. On the contrary, Li-Fi could play an important role in meeting the growing demand for data.
The spectrum of visible light turns out to be 10,000 times larger than the entire radio spectrum used by Wi-Fi, as well as having a larger broadband. Li-Fi can then reach a data transmission speed of more than 10 Gbps, far exceeding the speed of the classic Wi-Fi.
This new technology is preparing to become the ideal tool for a new digital age powered by billions of connections using light. There are already experiments in progress, both in Italy and abroad, and this makes us understand how technology has reached a turning point. But how exactly does the Light Fidelity work?
The heart of the system is obviously the LED bulb and its LED driver that allows it to drive and modulate data transmission. The driver LED provides an access point where you can enter the sequence of data to be transmitted, turning On and Off LED lights at a very high speed, not even perceptible to the human eye.
However, this way of sending data is nothing new in the absolute sense. Think, for example, to the TV remote control that we all have at home. Indeed, the remote control uses invisible infrared light to send signals. The concept has therefore been around for a long time, but it is only thanks to LED technology, IoT devices and smart lighting that it has been possible to expand it to new lighting systems.
LI-FI vs WI-FI: TECHNOLOGIES IN COMPARISON
As mentioned above, the exponential growth of connectivity and the continuous need to connect more and more users requires a stronger connection speed. With the advent of 5G, therefore, it is possible to take this new step, but only if equipped with ad hoc technologies that can exploit its maximum potential. Faced with this scenario, current technologies may not be enough.
Li-Fi exceeds the classic wireless connection in terms of speed, range, data density, security, bandwidth, and costs. In addition to bringing significant benefits over existing wireless technologies, Light Fidelity technology is designed to be integrated into smart devices. Let’s therefore briefly see the advantages and disadvantages of the new technology.
The limitations and disadvantages of Li-Fi technology can be summarised as follow:
Li-Fi appears to be an interesting data transmission system as it has particular characteristics that exceed those of the Wi-Fi, but that do not lead it to be considered a direct competitor, being a technology reserved for a niche market linked to particular applications such as biomedical, defence and the avionics sector.
Light Fidelity is in fact tested in sectors ranging from museum lighting to the creation of wireless networks in supermarkets and shops, from the naval and aviation lighting to the application in the smart city sector. Certainly, future developments will allow us to increase functions and scopes always taking into account the scalability and business objectives.