Scientists in China assert that they are another step closer to achieving Wi-fi Internet connectivity from a LED lightbulb (LiFi). The new Li-fi technology promises to be cheaper and more energy-efficient than the existing wireless radio systems.
The availability of LED lightbulbs and universal electric light infrastructure offers major energy efficiency benefits. While millions of WiFi base stations have been installed all over the world to boost signals, most of the energy is consumed by their cooling systems. The energy utilization rate of WiFi is as low as five percent. The number of lightbulbs, when compared to base stations, that can be used is practically limitless and more energy efficient.
The Chinese scientists claim that a LED lightbulb with embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second, which is much faster than the average broadband connection in the Asian behemoth. Professor Chi Nan, who teaches information technology at Shanghai's Fudan University, has been quoted as saying that experiments have demonstrated that four computers under a one-watt LED lightbulb may be able to connect to the Internet under the principle that light can be used as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, as in WiFi.
Professor Chi Nan will display ten sample LiFi kits at the China International Industry Fair, on November 5 in Shanghai. He leads a LiFi research team that includes scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Professor Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh originated the LiFi: a type of visible light communication (VLC) technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication that is similar to WiFi. In 2011 Professor Haas demonstrated how an LED bulb equipped with signal processing technology could stream a high-definition video to a computer.
This year, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute announced that data rates of up to 1Gbit/s per LED light frequency were possible in laboratory conditions. According to its website, Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization.
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