Friday, 28 August 2015

Never Mind Wi-Fi, Here Comes Li-Fi!

Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) - Ultrafast Broadband
As technology has developed over the years, the internet has progressed from using dial-up to ADSL to fiber optic cable and on to satellite technology. Fiber optic cable already uses light to transmit data allowing for faster broadband speeds. However, data transfer at the actual speed of light is not possible using fiber optic cable due to the fact that there is way too much interference and 'noise' during the transfer process.

In 2013, it was announced that Media Development Investment Fund, a New York-based company, were planning on providing a global network service which they termed 'the outernet' by 2016 in order to provide free Wi-Fi to anyone in the world. Anyone who had a mobile device would be able to connect to the outernet without restriction, regardless of country or location. However, 2016 is near upon us and the fruition of these plans still remains to be seen.

The next step in internet technology is Li-Fi. Instead of transmitting data using radio frequencies, as Wi-Fi does, Li-Fi will utilize the visible part of the electromagnetic light spectrum in order to transmit data at ultrafast speeds.

If this sounds too good to be true, consider that scientists at the University of Vienna recently announced that they had successfully managed to send data from one city to another virtually instantaneously using twisted light waves by exploiting classic and quantum mechanics. The Orbital Angular Momentum of light allows a particular wavelength to be twisted into a corkscrew shape thereby creating a potentially infinite amount of communication channels for data to be sent through.

Researchers at University of Oxford have confirmed that they have managed to achieve bi-directional internet speeds of 224-GB (Gigabytes) per second by using Li-Fi (Light Fidelity). Li-Fi technology uses specialized LEDs and receivers which operate with different fields of view and bands which affects the speed of data transmission.

According to Harold Haas:

"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-Fi's deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even a brighter future."

[ Image from Pixabay - Public Domain - https://pixabay.com/en/ball-abstract-pattern-lines-443853/ ]

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