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Lightbulbs can be used to broadcast wireless internet

LiFi is coming
Thu Aug 25 2011, 17:16
boffin-watch

A BOFFIN HAS DISCOVERED a way to use lightbulbs to broadcast wireless internet, dubbed 'LiFi'.

Physicist Harald Hass said he has developed a technology that can broadcast data through the same connection as a normal lamp.

Handily, just turning on the light switch in a room would switch on the internet connection, according to Professor Hass of the school of engineering at Edinburgh University in the UK.

Hass claims that 'LiFi', or Light Fidelity, could send wireless data from the 'white space' in TV spectrum or unused satellite signals.

Current methods using radio waves to transmit data are inefficient, he said, citing mobile phones as an example. In this case there are 1.4 million base stations boosting the signal but most of the energy is used to cool it, meaning it is only five per cent efficient.

But the 40 billion light bulbs in use across the world are far more efficient and by replacing old fashioned incandescent models with LED bulbs, Hass claimed he could turn them all into internet transmitters.

This invention, which he calls D-Light, can send data faster than the 10 megabits per second speed of a broadband connection by altering the frequency of the ambient light in the room.

This could be used in hospitals, airplanes, military, and even underwater. Airplane passengers could in theory be able to surf the Internet from signals beamed out of the lights on board.

"The way we transmit wireless data is inefficient electromagnetic waves, in particular radio waves which are limited, they are sparse, they are expensive and only have a certain range," Professor Hass said.

"It is this limitation which does not cope with wireless data... and we are running out of efficiency.

"Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum... wouldn't it be great to use it for wireless communications?" µ

 

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