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LiFi – Lighting Up The Digital Highway System

LiFi – Lighting Up The Digital Highway System

Using light to send digital data is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi.

LiFi – Lighting Up The Digital Highway System

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 13:45

Karin Heineman, Executive Producer

(Inside Science) -- Move over, Wi-Fi. Make room for LiFi -- a wireless technology that transmits data using light. The potential for this high-speed technology to change everything about the way we use the internet, and send and receive data is huge.

Check this out. LED lights send information to a baseball cap. Standing under the lights, and using headphones connected to the cap, a user wearing the cap can hear audio sounds -- like a voice narration or music. All that happens because of the light receiver fibers, with special detectors, that are woven into the top of the cap.

The circuitry, similar to what’s found in computer chips, processes pulses of light from these LED light panels, and transforms the light pulses into audio signals -- no radio or smartphone required.

Yoel Fink at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “What we’re doing is we’re enabling the LED, you know, the LED lights to actually communicate information and the fabric to receive that information and turn it into sound, into audio. And so this is really the first fabric-based communication system that communicates with the lights in the room.”

Fink dubbed the technology “fabric Lifi” and calls it the world’s first fabric-based communication system. The technology has myriad possible applications from hospitals to museums to navigation systems.

“Now, outside, we have the system called GPS, but that system doesn’t work inside. So imagine now, you want to get to a place in a building and the lights are programmed to guide you to where you want to go. Now the lights are beaming information, the fabric takes that information and converts it into instructions -- so, indoor navigation.”

This could be a tool for the military too, where it would be safer to communicate with other soldiers by zapping their uniforms with a narrow beam of light rather than broadcasting an easily intercepted radio message.

“You could literally project out a beam of light and have only those people that are in that beam hear what you want them to hear. That’s what I think is really fascinating about this.”

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Karin Heineman

Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV.