LiFi stands for Light Fidelity, a technology in which high quality LED lighting provides a broadband Internet connection through light waves.
Philips has announced in a press release that it will be the first global lighting company to offer LiFi-enabled luminaires. For now, these luminaires are being marketed for businesses only and one French real estate called Icade has already started testing the technology in its smart office in La Defense, Paris.
LiFi is a two-way, high-speed wireless technology similar to WiFi but uses light waves instead of radio waves to transmit data. According to the company, Philips Lighting’s office luminaires enabled with LiFi technology provide broadband connection with a speed of 30 Mb per second (Mb/s) without compromising lighting quality. With 30Mb/s a user can stream simultaneously several HD quality videos while having video calls.
“While radio frequencies are becoming congested, the visible light spectrum is an untapped resource with a large bandwidth suitable for the stable simultaneous connection of a vast array of Internet of Things devices,” said Olivia Qiu, Chief Innovation Officer, Philips Lighting.
The company points out that LiFi offers benefits over WiFi as it can be used in places where radio frequencies may interfere with equipment, such as in hospitals, or where WiFi signals cannot reach or are weak, such as underground. Other user cases include environments demanding high security; for example, the back office of a financial institution or government service. LiFi adds an extra layer of security as light cannot pass through solid walls and a line-of-sight to the light is needed to access the network.
How does LiFi work?
Each luminaire is equipped with a built-in modem that modulates the light at speeds imperceptible to the human eye. The light is detected by a LiFi USB key/dongle plugged into the socket of a laptop or tablet (in the future such technology will be built into laptops and devices). The LiFi USB dongle returns data to the luminaire through an infrared link. With Philips LiFi-enabled luminaires, customers get the double benefit of quality, energy-efficient LED light and a highly secure, stable and robust connection as LiFi has 10,000 times the spectrum of WiFi.