Li-Fi has been touted as the future of wireless connectivity, and there are many reasons why it could be. It’s secure, it’s blisteringly quick, and it could be super simple to install. Despite those promises, most of the demonstrations thus far have done anything but inspire confidence in the technology. Thankfully, Philips Lighting, the world leading in lighting, has now showcased exactly how Li-Fi could work in a real-world setting.
Philips has decided to pilot its Li-Fi luminaires at the offices of Icade, a French real estate investment company. The technology works thanks to embedded modems inside the LED lighting fixture, this then transmits a signal through light waves to any device within range. Currently those devices need a USB dongle plugged in, but in the future, it’s possible that devices will be built with Li-Fi in mind.
“Li-Fi has enormous potential for today’s digital age and as the world’s leading lighting company we are proud to pioneer new and innovative services for our customers,” says Olivia Qiu, chief innovation officer, Philips Lighting.
“While radio frequencies are becoming congested, the visible light spectrum is an untapped resource with a large bandwidth suitable for the stable simultaneous connection of a vast array of Internet of Things devices. Being a lighting company, we ensure that our customers benefit from the finest quality energy efficient light along with state-of-the-art connectivity.”
Li-Fi is currently nowhere near as efficient as Wi-Fi, with Philips’ pilot capable of speeds of just 30Mbps. That’s far lower than the 224Gbps that has been demonstrated in a laboratory, proving there’s still a lot of work that will need to go into the technology before it’s ready for primetime.
Despite the lack of speed, this demonstration of Li-Fi is showcasing some of its many benefits. Firstly, it’s incredibly secure, as light cannot penetrate walls, meaning it’s incredibly easy to lock a Li-Fi system down compared to Wi-Fi. It can also be installed in locations where Wi-Fi could interfere with critical systems, such as hospitals.
There are some issues that some users may have with Li-Fi, like how does it handle moving around? Well, the lights should be clever enough to seamlessly manage a mobile user, connecting them to a new Li-Fi network as the traverse a building. Don’t expect signal from a Li-Fi phone in a pocket, however.