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Li-Fi 100 times faster than Wi-Fi in real world tests

Published 25/11/2015

Bright idea: Professor Harald Haas coined the term Li-Fi and is at the forefront of research into the new technology
Bright idea: Professor Harald Haas coined the term Li-Fi and is at the forefront of research into the new technology

Scientists have tested Li-Fi, an alternative to Wi-Fi, in the real world and achieved speeds that are around 100 times faster than current average Wi-Fi.

Scientists have tested out Li-Fi, a wireless technology that transmits high-speed data using visible light communication (VLC), and achieved speeds that are 100 times faster than current average Wi-Fi speeds.

Li-Fi was trialled in the offices of Tallinn, Estonia with scientists finding that data transmission of a whopping 1GB per second could be achieved. That’s a promising start for the technology that managed speeds of 224 gigabits per second in the lab. For reference, at that speed you’d be able to download 18 movies of 1.5GB each every second.

The technology uses Visible Light Communication (VLC), which itself uses visible light between 400 and 800 terahertz (THz). It basically flicks an LED on and off at extreme speeds to write and transmit binary code.

Aside from faster speeds, Li-Fi can be much more secure as light cannot pass through walls. This also means that there is less interference between devices.

Before you start jotting down all the movies you’re going to download and the logistics of storing them all, it’s unlikely that this technology will replace Wi-Fi any time soon. Current devices would need to be fitted with the technology, for example.

However, the technologies could be used simultaneously to create more efficient networks. The inventor of Li-Fi, Professor Harald Haas, is optimistic about the technology’s future. In a TED talk, he said that every LED lightbulb could be used as an ultra-fast alternative to Wi-Fi.

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“All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission. In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion Li-Fis deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even brighter future," he explained.

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