Electronic Product Design

Thursday, 17 December 2015 00:00 Written by

17-12-15 - lifi logo 200Li-Fi Really Is Superfast

We have Superfast broadband installed at the office and I have superfast broadband installed at home. The BT Fibre connection is meant to clock in between 25-50Mbps. Instead, I regularly receive speeds of 8-12Mbps, which is what I was used to on my aging ADSL2 setup. Now, this is in part due to the wireless receiver attached to my computer which I will be changing in the coming weeks, but the speed variance is frustrating to say the least.

Cornish Fibre

It has taken quite some time for any form of superfast Internet to arrive in downtown Penzance. Whilst my mother-in-law, living out of town on a windswept hillside was basking in superfast broadband, I was still chugging along in town. The rollout of fibre broadband services throughout the county has been frustratingly slow for some major residential centres, to say the least.

By the time superfast arrived at my door, talk had already shifted to the next big thing: Li-Fi. Light Fidelity wireless transmissions use similar technology to Wi-Fi, though can broadcast at much high speeds, are bidirectional, and fully networked. Estonian start-up Vilmenni recently used a Li-Fi enabled light bulb to transmit data up to 1Gbps – 100 times faster than currently available Wi-Fi technology.

Things To Come

Unfortunately there is one major drawback with current Li-Fi specifications. Because the data transmission is based upon the light spectrum, any disturbance in that transmission causes the connection to fail. And as most houses are made of some form of brickwork, with some wood and potentially some plaster here and there, it would confine your Li-Fi experience to a single room.

Experts are seeing this issue as potential for good. Security experts believe Li-Fi’s main limitation could be used to secure private businesses, or provide individual connections in public spaces using overhead lights for networking. It could serve other purposes in home networking, too.

As our homes become increasingly networked, more devices are offering wireless connectivity. We’ve seen toasters, fridges, kettles, and plenty more all hooked up to home networks. Increased connectivity comes with its own issues, and as more of our homes become linked to the Internet of Things, we will need to be more vigilant with our own network security practices.

If Li-Fi can provide enhanced internal security, with fantastic data transmission speeds connected to a single external network connection point, it could just be the next step in connectivity.

When Will We See It

Even though Li-Fi has been in development for several years now, we shouldn’t expect it to materialise in our lives within the coming years. As with any new technology, especially those involving the broadcast and collection of potentially sensitive data, it will need to be thoroughly tested before appearing in front of consumers, like you and I.

That said, it is exciting. Who wouldn’t want to be able to download 18 feature-length films in a single second?


Image courtesy of: IceHawk33 / freedigitalphotos.net.


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