In the digital age, almost anything can be an enabled device. Cell phones have became portable computers and catalysts for the expansion of Wi-Fi – Are lamps next?
Recently, Estonian startup Velmenni announced that it has started testing commercial applications of Li-Fi, a super-fast transmission of data through visible light. The product, Jugnu, is an LED lamp that transmits data while it lights up a room.
According to CEO Deepak Solanki, Velmenni has been able to transmit data over light in the real world at a speed of 1 gigabit per second.
Li-Fi, also referred to as visible light communication (VLC), offers advantages over Wi-Fi. In addition to higher speeds, it is also theoretically more secure and more reliable. Li-Fi is less prone to interference from other devices because light cannot pass through walls.
Velmenni did not invent Li-Fi. Credit for that goes to University of Edinburgh professor Harold Hass in 2011. Since then, researchers have been trying to refine the technology.
No one is predicting Li-Fi will replace Wi-Fi, which has become as ubiquitous as landlines and telephone poles. On the other hand, the advantages of integrating the two could be tremendous. With simple retrofits to existing devices, users could be connecting to the Internet through a single lamp.
Solanki expects Li-Fi to become available in consumer applications in three or four years. (For more on Li-Fi, see “Light Conversation,” Electrical Contractor, September 2015.)