Forget Wi-Fi, you could soon use infrared lights to connect to the internet
Note: This article was first published on 17 July 2023.
The IEEE standards body – the same body behind Wi-Fi standards – is officially recognising wireless light communications or "Li-Fi" as a new physical layer for wireless local networks.
According to the IEEE, Li-Fi will use light in the 800nm to 1000nm spectrum and will be able to deliver transfer rates between 10Mbps and 9.6Gbps. That means that at the upper end, it's almost as fast as the fastest Wi-Fi 6 routers.
The idea of using light to send data is not new. We already knew for years that blinking light bulbs could be used to transmit data in substantial amounts and at high speeds.
However, the technology requires almost direct line-of-sight to work and can be affected by environmental lighting conditions. In other words, it's not as flexible and reliable as traditional Wi-Fi.
For example, the Light Antenna One – a Li-Fi module designed to go into phones – has an operating range of just three metresand requires a 24-degree field of view to work.
Ideally, you'd want to use Wi-Fi and Li-Fi together to nullify each other's weaknesses. Devices in close range and with direct line-of-sight could connect over Li-Fi which would then free up the Wi-Fi network for devices farther away.
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