What is lifi?

Technology never ceases to amaze us. Sometimes, it even seems capable of performing magic actions.

In the near future the astonishment will not stop increasing. Everyone is talking about Big Data, IoT, robotics or artificial intelligence, but there are other very practical technologies that could have an impact on our lives in no time.

Since the beginnings of the Internet, connections have not stopped improving, driven by ever-increasing demand. The world is hungry for more data, more connection, more intelligence, more speed. What happens is that current technologies have their limits, and therefore new solutions are knocking strongly at the door from time to time.

Today we live in a Wifi world. Some very popular terminals, such as mobile phones, as well as many other devices, use today’s wireless networks to provide all kinds of services over the Internet. What happens is that even such an effective technology has its limitations.

Lifi (or Light Fidelity) technology is one of the options proposed as a new form of data transmission. But what is lifi?

What is Lifi technology?

The term Lifi was first used as recently as 2011 by engineer Harald Haas during a TED conference.

What is lifi? In short, Lifi technology consists of a data transmission technique that uses visible light and ultraviolet and infrared lights to carry out the communication.

What’s that supposed to mean? Well, the data could be transmitted to any place where these types of light could reach. How is that possible? It’s simpler than it looks.

If we think, for example, of the popular LED lights, it is estimated that these could be turned on and off about 10 billion times per second (something that humans would not be able to perceive). Having this capacity, the “on and off” could be translated into binary language, thus reaching speeds of 10 Gbps.

Some advantages and disadvantages of Lifi technology

Let’s see some of them.

  • Advantage: its transmission speed would be much higher than that of Wifi transmissions. As already mentioned, it would move in the range of 10 to 20 Gbps, and maybe even more (in some tests it has even reached 224 Gbps).
  • Disadvantage: light waves are not able to pass through opaque obstacles, such as walls, so they would have range limitations. However, these could be defeated by sensors. In addition, a direct line of sight is not necessary (light can be reflected on the walls), although through this route the transmission speed would drop significantly.
  • Advantage: Lifi could be used in certain places sensitive to electromagnetic areas, such as airplanes or hospitals, without causing interference.
  • Disadvantage: light beams do not have a long range (about 5 to 10 meters). However, as in the case of overcoming obstacles, sensors could help increase distances.
  • Advantage: while the electromagnetic spectrum used by Wifi technology runs the risk of becoming saturated, it does not seem that the visible light spectrum (10,000 times greater) will do so in the short term.
  • Advantage: although it may seem so, it would not always be necessary for the lights to be on at a level perceptible by the human being. Their intensity could be reduced so that they could continue to operate in a non-visible way.
  • Advantage: in theory Lifi technology would be quite cheap to implement. It would be enough to incorporate modulators to the lights and to include the necessary receivers in the devices.

Present and future of Lifi technology

Given all these advantages, why hasn’t Lifi technology already been massively implemented?

The truth is that this is a promising technology, but they are still working on it. It is expected that in the coming months the standard will be published and the first associations dedicated to its dissemination will be formed. In addition, as on so many occasions, both technical and economic factors will come into play.

Its advocates claim that it will replace current Wifi technology or, at the very least, live with it by providing service in certain places and circumstances. Its detractors, on the other hand, find great objections to its limited range, which would require the deployment of a large network of sensors.

One of the issues most strongly advocated by Lifi developers is that infrastructure needs would be reduced. Now, whether we use Lifi technology or Wifi, we’ll always have some kind of infrastructure to monitor, don’t you think?

And that’s where Pandora FMS comes into play.

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