LiFi is a wireless communication technology that uses the infrared and visible light spectrum rather than radio frequencies for high-speed data communication.
LiFi extends the concept of visible light communication (VLC) to achieve high speed, secure, bi-directional and fully networked wireless communications. It is important to note that LiFi supports user mobility and multiuser access.
The key advantages of a LiFi wireless networking layer are:
(i) three orders of magnitude enhanced data densities;
(ii) unique properties to enhance physical layer security;
(iii) use in intrinsically safe environments.
LiFi, therefore, enables highspeed, secure and reliable wireless communications for industries that struggle with the use of radio frequencies such as defence & security industries, Industry 4.0 manufacturing environments, and other HR hostile environments such as hospitals, petrochemical plants and oil platforms.
With the advent of power-over-ethernet (PoE) and its use in lighting, there exists the opportunity to piggy-back on existing data network infrastructures for the required backhaul connections between the light sources with its integrated LiFi connectivity. The LiFi market is projected to be worth £75 Billion by 2023 according to Global Market Insights.
A LiFi network consists of a network of access points (AP) and LiFi stations. A LiFi access point is comprised of a transmitter that modulates the light from an LED bulb and a receiver that receives information back from the station. A LiFi station is either integrated or interfaced with a device to receive and transmit data back and forth from the LiFi AP.
LEDs are semiconductor devices, which means the current, and the visible light can be modulated at extremely high speeds. This high-speed modulated signal is then be detected by a photo-detector and converted back to an electrical current. The intensity modulation is imperceptible to the human eye. LiFi communication is just as seamless as RF, however, has many unique benefits, such as speed, density, security and enhanced location services.
LiFi can enable high-speed connectivity that is as pervasive as the lights in our ceilings, our streets and our homes. LiFi can enable, billions of connections powering billions of smart devices unlocking unprecedented productivity, autonomy and power the next generation of high-bandwidth disruptive applications such AI systems, edge computing and augmented/virtual reality
LiFi is a disruptive technology that is poised to impact many industries. Early adopters include companies that want inherently secure, safe, interference-free wireless communications. Such as industrial and industry 4.0 manufacturing environments, defence, light-as-a-service (LaaS) lighting companies.
Growth for LiFi adoptions is seen in intelligent transport systems, applications for enhancing road safety and driverless car technology. LiFi is attractive to security-sensitive industries, data centres and quickly growing industries such as MedTech for health monitoring of ageing societies. LiFi is also being seen as a new solution to close the digital divide.
The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of wireless traffic has been estimated at 60% during the last 10 years. Nokia Bell labs reported that 32% of global data demand cannot be met by 2020. Greater spectrum and bandwidth is required to service this demand. LiFi can offer up to 10,000 more spectrum for communications versus traditional Radio technologies such as WiFi and Cellular.
There has been a trend in wireless communications to use ever higher frequencies. This is a consequence of the limited availability of RF spectrum in the lower frequency bands of an exponential growth in wireless data traffic that we have been witnessing at the same time during the last decade. This growth will continue and inevitable that spectrum other than the RF spectrum must be used for future wireless communication systems. There has been significant research in light-based communications, like LiFi, during the past 15 years and data rates have increased from a few Mbps in around 2002 to 8 Gbps from a single LED in 2016.
Global Market Insights estimates that the LiFi market will be worth £75 Billion by 2023.
The Key Benefits of LIFi are:
Security: Light can be contained. Light cannot travel through walls, which means a LiFi signal can be secured in a physical space. pureLiFi’s technology also enables additional control as data can be directed from one device to another. Users can see where data is going.
Bandwidth: LiFi offers 1000 times the bandwidth of Radio frequencies. That spectrum is also unlicensed and globally harmonizable.
No Interference: Radio frequency technology such as Wi-Fi is vulnerable to interference from a wide range of devices such as cordless phones, microwaves and neighbouring Wi-Fi networks. LiFi signals can be defined by the area of illumination, which means interference is much simpler to avoid and even stop altogether. This also means LiFi can be used in RF hostile zones such as hospitals, power plants and aeroplanes.
Data Density: Data density offers a greater user experience as it reduces the need to share wireless bandwidth with other users. LiFi can achieve approximately 1000 times the data density of Wi-Fi offering more data per square metre. This is an important factor for wireless efficiency.
Location Services: LiFi systems are fully networked, and each LiFi enabled light has it a unique IP address which means advanced geofencing can be deployed simply in a LiFi network.
Efficiency: LiFi allows the repurposing of light for communications as it uses the same infrastructure. LED lights are already widely efficient, and LiFi gives them another purpose, connectivity.
Smart Lighting: Any private or public lighting including street lamps can be used to provide LiFi hotspots, and the same communications infrastructure can be used to monitor and control lighting and data.