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IT trends spotted and checked by experts

Director of Innovation at Lucibel

Edouard Lebrun is Director of Innovation at Lucibel. A graduate of ESCEM Tours-Poitiers Business School, he began his career working in international logistics in China, for Tramar...


Li-Fi: Lighting up the Internet

22 Dec, 2016 02:17 pm

Li-Fi wireless Internet technology is safer, faster and poses fewer health concerns than Wi-Fi, making it a serious contender to challenge the dominance of Wi-Fi as the industry standard for wireless connectivity.

How does it work?

Li-Fi is a type of communications technology, which uses LED light to transmit data. When such light passes through an electric current, LED lighting generates a shimmering phenomenon that is invisible to the naked eye, and which can be transformed into a sequence of zeros and ones - sort of "optic Morse code". This allows it to be used as a means of transmitting data.
Li-Fi is often lazily compared to Visible Light Communication (VLC), a technology that uses normal light. VLC has been around for many years but it only offers low-speed, unidirectional connection (a downstream rate). It is used with indoor global positioning applications in stores or museums, for example.

As for Li-Fi, it offers a high-speed, bidirectional connection of up to 42Mb/s. The light enters the electronic part of the device creating an access point. Users need a USB key to obtain a connection. This type of technology, which was available only in prototype form three or four years ago, can now be produced on an industrial scale.  

What are the benefits of Li-Fi over Wi-Fi?

Li-Fi can compete with wireless connections that are made via radio waves such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Zigbee in many ways. Firstly, when comes to secure data sharing: Light waves are confined to one room and do not travel through walls, unlike radio waves. Right now you can pick up your neighbour's Wi-Fi signal from your own home - with Li-Fi, this is not the case. 

Li-Fi can also be deployed in sensitive environments such as hospitals, where Wi-Fi cannot due to the risk that it can cause interference with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines and other scanners. 

Furthermore, electromagnetic waves can be dangerous for our health. In France, the Abeille Law bans the installation of Wi-Fi access points in daycare centres and nursery schools for children under three years old. Light, however, is natural.

How is this type of technology currently being used?

Primarily, it is being used in the B2B arena. Li-Fi guarantees confidential communications in vital sectors such as finance and banking, defence and R&D. It offers a secure type of Internet access in spaces such as meeting rooms. 

On the other hand, Li-Fi can also be used in areas where there is a particularly high density of users, such as airports, hotels and conference centres. A Li-Fi light guarantees a connectivity zone of 4 to 5m², which can accommodate up to eight users. 

Finally, Li-Fi allows communication between connected objects, offering more security and faster connection speeds. Being an agnostic type of technology, Li-Fi is compatible with all types of telecommunications operator.  
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