The inventor of the electric lightbulb could hardly have imagined that one day his creation would be used not only to illuminate homes around the world, but also to transmit data that would enable people to download information from satellites in space to small hand-held devices. However, with the introduction of Li-Fi, household lighting could soon double as a form of data transmission that’s up to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.
Li-Fi, which was first invented by Harold Haas of the University of Edinburgh in 2011, uses visible light communication (VLC) to send data at extremely high speeds. Essentially, this works like an incredibly fast signal lamp, flashing on and off in order to relay messages in binary code (1s and 0s). In previous lab-based experiments, the technology was able to transmit up to 224 gigabits per second. To put this in perspective, Wi-Fi is capable of reaching speeds of around 600 megabits per second.
The technology has now been deployed in real-life situations for the first time, thanks to the work of Estonian start-up Velmenni, which has begun trialling Li-Fi in offices and other industrial settings in Tallinn. In these environments, they were able to achieve connection speeds of around one gigabit per second.