Now, scientists have taken Li-Fi out of the lab for the first time, testing it in offices and industrial environments, reporting that they have achieved data transmissions of 1 GB per second - 100 times faster than current average Wi-Fi speeds.
"We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilize the VLC (visible light communication) technology," said Deepak Solanki, CEO of Estonian tech company, Velmenni.
"Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light. We are also doing a pilot project with a private client where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the Internet in their office space.”
Li-Fi was invented by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland back in 2011, when he demonstrated for the first time that by flickering the light from a single LED, he could transmit far more data than a cellular tower.
The technology uses Visible Light Communication (VLC), a medium that uses visible light between 400 and 800 terahertz (THz). It works basically like an incredibly advanced form of Morse code - just like switching a torch on and off according to a certain pattern can relay a secret message, flicking an LED on and off at extreme speeds can be used to write and transmit things in binary code.
And while you might be worried about how all that flickering in an office environment would drive you crazy, don’t worry - we’re talking LEDs that can be switched on and off at speeds imperceptible to the naked eye.
The benefits of Li-Fi over Wi-Fi, other than potentially much faster speeds, is that because light cannot pass through walls, it makes it a whole lot more secure.
While Li-Fi will probably not completely replace Wi-Fi in the coming decades, the two technologies could be used together to achieve more efficient and secure networks.