Will Li-Fi be the new Wi-Fi?
Oledcomm is a Parisian start-up which has spent the last two years working with “Li-Fi”: a “light fidelity”. At the heart of this technology is a new generation on high brightness light-emitting diodes. The solution consists on sending data through a LED light bulb that varies in intensity faster than the human eye can follow. Even using a basic modem connected to this bulb is enough to send information to the computer via a light sensor. These sophisticated techniques develop a speed intensity of over 500 megabytes per second which is already 150 times the speed of Wi-Fi connection.
The main advantage of this technology, named “Li-Fi” at the moment, is the data security: radio waves can be intercepted or jammed. Another advantage is the efficiency of the system: in order to use the Li-Fi the light has to be in an almost closed space that means implementing this system without affecting the infrastructure. More over, the Li-Fi could be used safely in aircraft, integrated into medical devices and hospitals where Wi-Fi is banned, or even underwater, where Wi-Fi doesn’t work at all.
But if there are clear benefits in the usage of Li-Fi, there are also some issues to overcome. For systems that communicate, like the smartphone for example, the bulb needs to be precisely positioned in order to receive the light beam. Concering Wi-fi, one of the points of owning a wireless device is the ability to carry it from room to room without worrying about losing a signal. Creating an equivalent line-of-sight light network would be virtually impossible. This doesn’t mean that Li-Fi is useless, but it suggests certain inherent limits for the technology.
Today, several different German, Japanese, and American companies are working to develop a web application. In Paris, they are confident to have a marketable product by 2014, and for no more than 80 Euros.