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Li-Fi: The Potential and the Reality

By Sharad KC

If you’ve been following our newsletter for the last 15 years then you might get a déjà vu feeling reading the article title. In 2002, Jeff Kelley wrote for our newsletter about the up and coming technology of Wi-Fi, in an article entitled “Wi-Fi: The Potential and the Reality.” This was when dial up was in its peak years. He writes about the applications of this new technology and challenges that companies Metricom and Telco faced during those early times of Wi-Fi. He also writes in his concluding paragraph, “Wi-Fi is fast and cheap for anyone with the hardware and Internet technology.”

And here I am today complaining after almost 14 years about the very technology I cannot live without. Wi-Fi is in most cases slow, unsecure, and expensive. Not a single day goes by without me complaining about the short comings of Wi-Fi. I believe this is a very outdated technology. Technology is moving at such a fast pace that within the next decade, we will all forget about the world changing technology, Wi-Fi.

So what’s going to make this happen?

Li-Fi will be the technology for me, for you, and for better access to the Internet. This technology has the potential to overcome the speed, security, and cost challenges of Wi-Fi. Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) is a bidirectional, high-speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi. It is wireless and uses visible-light communication or infrared and near-ultraviolet instead of radio-frequency spectrum.

In this TED talk, Harald Haas introduces a Li-Fi device that could transmit data. By flickering the light from a single LED, a change too quick for the human eye to detect, he can transmit far more data than a cellular tower and do it in a way that’s more efficient, secure, and widespread.

If you noticed, this talk was given in 2011. Today, there are dozens of startups trying to pioneer the business of Li-Fi and introduce it to the world. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, French start-up Oledcomm demonstrated the capabilities of Li-Fi, using just an office lamp to start playing a smartphone video. Larger companies, such as Phillips and Apple, are also interested in incorporating these technologies into their products. Now isn’t that something to look forward to?!

For more information on Li-Fi, please visit:
1. http://www.lifi-centre.com/
2. http://purelifi.com/

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