Implications for Li-Fi in Factories and the IoT

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Jan 11, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Li-fi.jpgAs more industrial premises are switching onto the idea of using packet data to send and receive information around their factories and warehouses, they are also getting switched onto the idea of using wireless systems.  The trouble is the Wi-Fi signals isn't always a viable solution and there's also concerns about security.

But now, there's a solution to these problems by using something that's already in place in every factory and warehouse and that's Li-Fi, a term coined by its inventor Harold Haas.  It was first invented in 2011 and after successful trials, it moved into the public in 2015.  In the lab, Harold and his team achieved speeds of a whopping 224 GB a second.  But in trials in offices and industrial environments, it dropped to a much smaller but still very impressive 1 GB per second or 100 times faster than Wi-Fi and eight times faster than Ethernet.  For a more detailed analysis of the differences between Wi-Fi and Li-Fi, this articles from Science Alert is worth the read.

But how does it work?  Basically, it works by switching LED lights off in a pattern, much like Morse code, at speeds so fast the human eye can't detect it.  It uses Visible Light Communication (VLC) which captures light at between 400 and 800 terahertz (THz) and transmits data in binary.

Haas, has created a company, pureLiFi, which aims to bring the technology to the wider public by providing a plug-and-play solution which provides secure wireless internet access at 11.5 Mbps using a standard LED bulb.

It's in the early stages and it will be awhile before we start seeing Li-Fi enabled laptops, I/O modules, street light, or other devices, but it's reasonable to assume that one day, in the near future, the light we work under will also be simultaneously sending and receiving secure interference free data.

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