Light Fidelity: The Future of Wireless Communication


In a TEDGlobal talk in March 2011, Professor Harald Hass introduced the future to the world. The inception of the Light Fidelity Communication system using visible and non visible light grabbed as many eyeballs seven years ago as it does today.

In scientific jargon, Li-Fi according to Wikipedia is a “visible light communication (VLC) system capable of high speed data transfer over the visible light, Infrared and Ultraviolet radiation spectra.” What this means is that Li-Fi transfers data using light emitted from LEDs and/or other light sources in the visible/IR/UV spectrum. The technology has potential applications in several variegated areas, particularly those susceptible to electromagnetic interferences, and is significantly cheaper and faster than Wi-Fi. With almost 82% revenue growth between 2013 and 2018, its market is projected to reach $6 billion by the end of this year.


Li-Fi works by switching the current to the transmitting LEDs on and off at a rate so high that it cannot be perceived by the human eye. The light from these diodes is used as a medium of communication and the reflective nature of light allows it to be confined within a room without compromising on non line-of-sight operations. Theoretically, LEDs do not need to be switched on as Li-Fi can operate with them being dimmed to very low levels.

How does it hold up against Wi-Fi?

Like most contemporary technologies, Li-Fi offers a safer and faster communication channel than its predecessor. One very strong point in favour of security is that since light cannot penetrate through walls, the signal therefore, cannot be hacked from a remote location. Other advantages and disadvantages are discussed below.

Feature Wi-Fi Li-Fi
Working Uses radio frequency to transmit data Uses visible light, UV, and IR radiation to transmit data.
Interference Radio frequencies are susceptible to electromagnetic interferences Can be blocked only by walls, mirrors etc.
Applications Currently used for data transfer & internet browsing almost everywhere. Used in aeroplanes, hospitals, nuclear sites etc.
Frequency 2 GHz, 4.9 GHz, and 5 GHz Visible light, ultraviolet &  infrared
Coverage Approximately 32 meters and affected by physical factors Approximately 10 meters but reflected light can also achieve data transfer.


Commercial Applications

·        Underwater Operations

Wi-Fi signals cannot penetrate through salty water and underwater operations therefore, employ physical cables, which are severely limited by length and fragility. Light, with its capability to travel through water up to a thousand meters offers a better communication channel.

  • Hospitals

Most medical operations require more than one person and Li-Fi is a better communication system as it does not affect body tissue and medical equipment unlike radio frequency.


  • Industries

Li-Fi has real time communication capability and can potentially replace slip rings and Industrial Ethernet cables.



The enhanced security, faster speed, and cheaper application of Li-Fi technology is a strong point in favour of this contender. While the coverage area is practically confined to a room without reflection and smartphones cannot receive data inside pockets (unless they’re transparent), it is still a beautiful technology that has endless potential.

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