We just got used to Wi-Fi when the new technology of Li-FI is already announced. This technique uses light beams to transfer data at a speed 100 times faster than the fastest Wi-Fi-network.

First test launched in real-life.

So far, the technique has only been tested in a lab environment, but now a real life environment is set up in Tallinn, Estonia. An office building in the Estonian capital is doing the pilot project to use Li-Fi as its access to the Internet. First tests reported they achieved a data transmission of 1GB per second.

How does this work?

The technology used is called VLC (Visible Light Communication).

When a constant current is sent to a LED light bulb, a constant stream of photons is emitted from the bulb, showing a visible light beam. When this current is varied, the light beam can be modified to go on and off. This is done at a very high speed, imperceptible to the human eye. On the receiving end, a photo-detector device is receiving this flickering light and converts it back to electrical current.

What are the advantages?

Besides the fact that this method is much faster than Wi-Fi, it is also much more secure: Because light does not travel through walls, data transmitted in a room can’t be hacked from outside. However this may also be a disadvantage, since you need visible connection with the light.

There is also less risk of interference from other devices nearby.

Li-Fi was invented in Scotland.

The first test was done in 2011 by Harald Haas at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he demonstrated that by modulating light in a single LED, data could be transmitted at giant speeds. In 2012, Haas and his team established a new enterprise called pureLife in Edinburgh to do further studies on the technology and to commercialize it.

There is no info yet on when this will be available for the public, but it will probably take another 3 to 4 years. If tests in Estonia work well, the team of pureLife hopes to eventually have the technology available in every house. All that is needed is to fit a small microchip into every illumination device and a receiver.

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