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It looks like Isaac Azimov was right when he predicted 50 years ago that in 2014 “ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colours that will change at the touch of a push button“. With LED technology, this is already happening, but innovation could go further, and in the near future we could access the Internet thanks to those LED lights. 

The Visible Light communication (VLC) or Li-Fi would enable us to transmit data through light signal. The signal could come from the ceiling lamps in an office, your desk lamp or even city lighting. Although this would mean that the lights would be switched on all time, they could be dimmed to a point where it’s not even visible to the human eye.

A drawback of this technology is that walls would interfere with light data transmission. However, this would actually reduce the risk of data leaking. Li-Fi could then be safer than Wi-Fi and data less likely hacked. Since there would be no interference with radio equipment, Li-Fi could be safely used in planes and hospitals, and even by people working underwater. 

The technology is still a long way from being used commercially. For now, Li-Fi is improved and developed by the Fraunhofer Institut in Dresden, as well as in China and in the UK.

If you want to learn more, watch Harald Haas’ TED talk or check out the Li-Fi Consortium’s website:

http://www.ted.com/talks/harald_haas_wireless_data_from_every_light_bulb

http://www.lificonsortium.org/ 

Sources:

Vincent, J. (2013, October 28). Li-Fi revolution: internet connections using light bulbs are 250 times faster than broadband. The Independent. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/lifi-revolution-internet-connections-using-light-bulbs-are-250-times-faster-than-broadband-8909320.html

Image from Wikimedia.