Li-Fi: technology of the future

Data could soon be transmitted using the power of light following recent development work by a University of Edinburgh spin-out business.

New light has been shed on the field of wireless communication as a revolutionary new university spin-out looks to transmit data through LED bulbs.

Visible Light Communications (VLC) believes that it has taken a leap forward in communication by creating a technology that can turn a light source into a localised data communications centre.

Forget Wi-Fi: the University of Edinburgh spin-out is to launch the first ‘Li-Fi’ technology application. VLC chief executive Dr Gordon Povey comments, ‘Our research has shown that, using LED light as the carrier, we can achieve data rate speeds well in excess of current Wi-Fi configurations.’

The idea of transmitting data via the visible light spectrum is not a new one, but the development of super-high-speed transmission using off-the-shelf lightbulbs is. VLC’s ‘Li-Fi’ technology allows light to modulate at a rate so fast it is imperceptible to the human eye but can be picked up by receivers, such as configured smart phone cameras, at speeds of hundreds of megabytes per second, enabling the light source to transmit data.

Povey notes, ‘The long-term potential for Li-Fi over Wi-Fi is one that cannot be ignored.’ He even believes that the Li-Fi revolution could eventually break the world’s dependence on radio waves, adding, ‘At the rate we currently adopt wireless data, we will ultimately run out of radio spectrum as we cope with the long-term demand of wireless data transmissions and the trillions of bytes of data communicated every month.’

While it certainly seems that the lights are on in Edinburgh, we must wait and see how far the light, or Li-Fi, will spread.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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University Spinouts