Li-Fi_Lighting_the_Way - frishberg.pdf

Li fi is one of the most promising versions of

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Li-Fi is one of the most promising versions of visible light communication (VLC), a category of optical wireless communications that also includes communications via infrared and ultra- violet wavelengths. Li-Fi boasts several advantages over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 4G data connections. Since light waves cannot penetrate walls, Li-Fi can be se- cured from hackers with simple physi- cal barriers. Unlike laser communication systems, it does not require a direct line- of-sight connection. Over the last few years, transmission speeds have leapfrogged from 500 Mbps to 5 Gb/sec. Most recently, researchers have reported speeds up to 10 Gb/sec.
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8 | Research-Technology Management Perspectives Scientists from the universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Strathclyde, Oxford, and Cambridge used an LED bulb developed at the University of Strathclyde to transmit separate 3.5 Gb/sec streams across each of the three primary colors, adding up to a combined 10 Gb/sec trans- fer rate, 250 times the fastest broad- band available today. Researchers at the Autonomous Technological Insti- tute of Mexico (ATIM) have also claimed 10 Gb/sec data transfer rates. This speed comes at an estimated one-tenth of the cost of Wi-Fi. In addition, Li-Fi has about 1,000 times the data density of Wi-Fi be- cause visible light can be well contained, while RF tends to spread out and cause interference. The development of ultrafast LEDs, which can be modulated even more rapidly than current models, may al- low even faster transmission speeds. In October, Maiken Mikkelsen, an assis- tant professor of electrical and com- puter engineering and physics at Duke University, announced a breakthrough that made fluorescent molecules emit photons of light 1,000 times faster than normal—setting a speed record and making an important step toward real- izing superfast light-emitting diodes. “One of the applications we’re target- ing with this research is ultrafast LEDs,” she says. “While future devices might not use this exact approach, the under- lying physics will be crucial.” Even if Li-Fi does not supplant Wi-Fi (which has the advantage of working outdoors), it could become an important solution to the predicted spectrum crunch—the coming point when the ra- dio bands are all at capacity. The US Fed- eral Communications Commission says Wi-Fi is close to reaching that limit. The visible light spectrum has 10,000 times the bandwidth of the radio frequencies utilized by Wi-Fi. Several companies are working on bringing Li-Fi devices to the commercial market. Haas helped launch PureLiFi to commercialize Li-Fi products like their Li-1st, which provides two-way Inter- net connections with existing lighting systems. In February, PureLiFi showed off its prototype Li-Flame at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The team described Li-Flame as the next genera- tion of the world’s first ubiquitous VLC high-speed, wireless network solution, promising measurable reductions in both infrastructure complexity and en- ergy consumption. In Barcelona, the
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