LiFi: technology that will revolutionize mobile communications

Last Updated on January 31, 2017 by Editor Futurescope

Have you tried to congratulate your friends and family on the New Year on January 1st at 00:00 hours? Well you know that the current networks of mobile communication are not perfect. The technologies used today, such as 3G, 4G or WiFi can become saturated with a certain ease, becoming, simply and simply, unusable.

Each year, the number of devices connected to the network increases significantly. And in the future it will do so even more strongly in the light of the rise of the internet of things, a subject that we talked about in this article. We are on our way to becoming a hyper connected society for which we must improve our wireless communication systems and this is where LiFi technology comes into play.

LiFi is popularly known as optical communication technology that relies on the transfer of data at frequencies between 400 and 800 THz, a range that is within the visible spectrum of people. That is, transmitting information through the light. Thanks to this new technology, we would be able to connect to the internet through conventional lighting elements such as LED bulbs. That yes, after adapting them with some electronic elements that are expected of low cost.

The term LiFi was coined by Harald Haas, a German engineer and professor of Mobile Telephony at the University of Edinburgh. It did so during the TED conference of 2011, which talked about communications through visible light and other wireless optical communications, also known as the acronym OWC. For the more curious, here you have the video of this presentation.


Li-Fi refers to the term Light Fidelity in English, or what would be the same in English Fidelity of Light, is communication by visible light, yes, visible light. This light what it does is transmit ultra-fast data of light that is received by an optical router.

It is a wireless communication system just like Wi-Fi but using as medium visible light instead of electromagnetic waves. Surely you know that light travels 300,000 kilometers per second, can you imagine connecting to the internet and sailing with such speed? But…


Li-Fi means communication through impulses of visible light through which information is transferred, that is, transmitting information through light.

In order to enjoy this technology we have in the image a bulb that has an emitting chip or mini transmitting antenna (similar to the one used by traditional routers for wifi) that turns it into a luminous router and so that bulb is capable of emitting waves Li-Fi that will be captured by the light receivers such as mobile phones, cameras, televisions, computers or even other smart appliances. The light waves or impulses emitted by the bulb are only emitted when the bulb is on and are imperceptible to the human eye.

Logically it is imperative to have an internet connection so that the antenna of the bulb transmits the information to the rest of the receivers of a house or office.

The good thing about this technology is that the infrastructure for LiFi technology already exists. There are thousands of lights everywhere, estimated to be 14 billion.

All we need to do is fit a small microchip to each lighting device (LED bulb). Then combine two basic functions: lighting and wireless data transmission.

The founder of this technology explains its operation:

“When a constant current is applied to a [emitter-diode] LED bulb, a constant flow of photons are emitted from the lamp which is observed as visible light. If the current is varied gradually, the output intensity of the light is attenuated from top to bottom (varies as well). Because LED bulbs are semiconductor devices, the current, and hence the optical output, can be modulated at extremely high speeds that can be detected by a photo-detector device and converted back into electrical current. The modulation of the intensity is imperceptible to the human eye, and therefore the communication is as transparent as RF [Radio Frequency Technology]. Using this technique, high-speed information can be transmitted from an LED bulb to a receiver. ”


Chinese researchers at the Institute of Technical Physics in Shanghai have managed to transmit remote information from the internet through light rather than the traditional use of radio waves (wifi). Using a one-watt LED light, the team got four computers to connect to the internet. This small bulb can achieve data flows up to 100 times faster than the speed of the WiFI. This new technology is already known as LIFI.

Do you know of any other wireless network than Wi-Fi? Well, today we will talk about the concept LI-FI or LIFI, a concept that will give much to talk about, the new era of wireless connections, an alternative to the well-known Wi-Fi. We will explain what Li-Fi is, how it works, what advantages and disadvantages it has with respect to WiFi and the future that awaits this promising term. We will explain everything in a simple way so that you understand it well.


The term Visible Light Communication implies the use of any portion of light of electromagnetic spectrum to transmit information and it is in the year 2010 when the physicist Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom) founded the project D-Light. In 2011 it started to promote this technology in order to be able to market it. At the end of 2011 different groups and companies of this industry formed in Li-Fi Consortium in order to publicize and promote this technology.

During the presentation of the new form of transmission, Harald Haas demonstrated his LiFi technology using a light bulb of only 3 $ LED. “It’s data through lighting,” Haas said. “Data transmission using an LED bulb is free, not to mention LED bulbs, which in themselves are extremely efficient.”


Although the LiFi technology is still undergoing experimentation, it is worth mentioning that it promises to be the wireless network of the near future and will replace the known Wi-Fi wireless system over time. Let’s see why and what are the advantages and disadvantages of Li-Fi technology.


  • It can offer speeds of 500 mbps (megabits per second), that is, almost 10 times faster than the optical fiber used by Wi-Fi.
  • It’s cheaper than Wi-Fi, said to be up to 10 times cheaper.
  • Any light bulb or street light can be converted into a hotspot or light router cheaply and simply by putting a simple Li-Fi emitter.
  • Light, not crossing walls, is much safer than Wi-Fi. It can be used in places that are very security-conscious like in banks.
  • Does not require the quoted radio frequencies required by Wi-Fi. Radiofrequency communication requires complex radio circuits, antennas and receivers, while Li-Fi is much simpler and uses direct modulation methods similar to those used in low-cost infra-red communications devices such as remote controls
  • Absence of cables.
  • The electric light does not disturb or interfere with the communication, it does not cause interference with other systems.
  • It does not saturate the frequency bands used for the transmission of information via Wi-Fi.
  • It is more energy efficient than Wi-Fi


  • It does not work under direct sunlight.
  • It does not cross partitions or walls.
  • It does not work with the light off which can give rise to an increase in your light rate.
  • Only works with devices (tablets, mobiles, etc.) that have a receiver for such technology, that is, have a receiver capable of decoding the light signal.

How will LiFi technology help us?

Speaking bluntly, LiFi technology will allow us to transmit data at high speed while lighting a place. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, one of its main advantages is that it does not saturate the spectrum used by current systems such as WiFi and its speed can be 100 times faster. In addition, the light used to transmit the information can be shaped as required. For example, creating a very narrow beam of light, directed to the desired point, would mean creating a safer short-range network.

Of course, LiFi technology is also not perfect, so it has some disadvantages. At present, the scope of this system leaves much to be desired, since it is placed in a few meters (about 10), and its coverage is interrupted when placing an object in front of the light source. In fact, with the simple fact of passing the hand in front of the light beam, the transmission of data is interrupted.

In any case, it is likely that we will soon see the implementation of this technology in public places with large influx, such as shopping malls or sports stadiums. It is even envisaged as a good alternative to QR codes. For example, in the supermarket, next to the products could be placed a LiFi beam that would report on the characteristics of the product or if it forms part of a promotion.

In short, LiFi is a technology that will sooner or later be part of our lives. It is a good opportunity for the future because it is a relatively inexpensive, simple system with the advantage that it promises high rates of transmission speed without saturating the electromagnetic spectrum used today.


As research advances in this field can almost say that this technology can replace Wi-Fi without any doubt. This technology is in the experimental phase but we are almost sure how fast everything goes, faster than the light itself, we will not miss anything that in a few years can change forever the way we connect to the internet in our homes. It would not hurt to leave our cell phone under a single lamp while it is charging, or while we are browsing without having problems of connectivity as happens many times with Wi-Fi. Everything will be seen in time … we launch a question in the air …

Will we see ourselves in a short time connected to the Internet by means of simple “bulbs”?

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Founding writer of Futurescope. Nascent futures, foresight, future emerging technology, high-tech and amazing visions of the future change our world. The Future is closer than you think!

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