Chinese researchers have been able to connect four computers to the Internet using a Li-Fi light-based communications link from a one-watt LED light bulb.
"Wherever there is an LED light bulb, there is an Internet signal," said Chi Nan, an information technology professor with Shanghai's Fudan University. "Turn off the light and there is no signal."
Chi, who leads a LiFi research team including scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, acknowledged to Xinhuanet that Li-Fi's future success as a commercial technology relies upon development of key pieces of technology, including light communication controls as well as microchip design and manufacturing.
The effort could be worth it, however. Chi estimates that a light bulb with the requisite embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 Mbps.
Harald Haas, chair of mobile communications at the University of Edinburgh, has touted even faster speeds. He said his group of researchers demonstrated speeds up to 1.67 Gbps on a single color/LED. "By the end of this year, we believe we can achieve 2 Gbps on each of the R, G, B channels, with a target of demonstrating aggregate speeds up to 6 Gbps," he announced in August.
Li-Fi is a moniker used for visible light communication (VLC) technology, which delivers wireless data via visible light spectrum instead of radio frequencies and could be used to enable LED light fittings in buildings to connect to a broadband network. Li-Fi supporters contend that using the vast amounts of readily available free and unlicensed visible light could not only solve issues of limited and congested RF spectrum but also deliver much faster wireless speeds.
- see this Xinhuanet article
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