From Wi-Fi to Li-Fi: A Glimpse into the Future of Wireless Technology

Even with the latest advancements in Wi-Fi technology, it’s hard to match the speed of Li-Fi. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently introduced a new communication standard based on light, known as Li-Fi. While Li-Fi won’t replace Wi-Fi entirely, it offers a promising option for high-speed data transfer.

In fact, an industry group has already emerged to support and promote this innovative technology. With Li-Fi, users can potentially enjoy a “fast lane” for their data transmission needs, adding an extra level of convenience and efficiency to their connectivity experience.

Leading companies such as pureLiFi and Fraunhofer HHI have shown their commitment to advancing the Li-Fi standard. For instance, Fraunhofer HHI has created a video that illustrates how Li-Fi can enhance networks by leveraging existing lighting infrastructure within buildings.

Watch the video here:

On the other hand, pureLiFi has developed the compact Light Antenna ONE module, measuring just 14.5mm in size. This module is currently being sampled by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for potential integration into various devices, including smartphones and laptops, enabling them to benefit from lightning-fast data speeds.

Despite its relatively small form factor, comparable to mmWave 5G antenna modules, which are already substantial, the Light Antenna ONE holds significant potential for expanding connectivity options while minimizing space requirements and costs for devices.

The widespread adoption of Wi-Fi can be attributed to its ability to provide convenient connectivity over a considerable range. With the capability to penetrate obstacles, radio waves enable a single Wi-Fi hotspot to deliver high-speed internet access to an entire home or office. However, this convenience does not extend to other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Signals with higher frequencies, such as laser beams, have the potential to transmit significantly larger amounts of data, but they require a direct line-of-sight connection. Therefore, when utilizing Li-Fi, it becomes crucial to consider the orientation of your device to ensure that the Li-Fi window is properly aligned with the laser source.

According to the Li-Fi alliance, the potential speed of Li-Fi technology could be 100 times faster than existing Wi-Fi. However, it is important to note that these claims remain theoretical until we have the hardware to test and validate them. In terms of theoretical maximums, the Li-Fi standard has the potential to transfer 224 gigabytes of data per second, equivalent to approximately 1,700 Gbps (gigabits per second).

In comparison, the Wi-Fi 6 standard reaches a maximum of 9.6 Gbps, while Wi-Fi 7 can achieve up to 40 Gbps. It is worth highlighting that the claimed speeds of Li-Fi are impressive, even surpassing the current capabilities of NASA’s space lasers, which currently reach a maximum of 200 Gbps.

Li-Fi technology operates using infrared lasers that are invisible to the human eye, meaning there will be no noticeable change to the lighting in your surroundings. However, it is important to consider the potential for interference with certain devices such as night vision security cameras and laser-based robot vacuums that rely on lasers for navigation.

As for witnessing Li-Fi in action, the opportunity to see it firsthand may arise in early 2024 at prominent tradeshows like CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and Mobile World Congress, scheduled for January and February respectively. These events could provide a glimpse into the practical applications and capabilities of Li-Fi technology.