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Li-Fi is a bidirectional, high-speed and fully networked wireless communication technology similar to Wi-Fi. The term was coined by Harald Haas[1] and is a form of visible light communication and a subset of optical wireless communications (OWC) and could be a complement to RF communication (Wi-Fi or cellular networks), or even a replacement in contexts of data broadcasting.

It is wire and UV visible-light communication or infrared and near-ultraviolet instead of radio-frequency spectrum, part of optical wireless communications technology, which carries much more information and has been proposed as a solution to the RF-bandwidth limitations.[2]

Technology details[edit]

This OWC technology uses light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as a medium to deliver networked, mobile, high-speed communication in a similar manner to Wi-Fi.[3] The Li-Fi market is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 82% from 2013 to 2018 and to be worth over $6 billion per year by 2018.[4]

Visible light communications (VLC) works by switching the current to the LEDs off and on at a very high rate,[5] too quick to be noticed by the human eye. Although Li-Fi LEDs would have to be kept on to transmit data, they could be dimmed to below human visibility while still emitting enough light to carry data.[6] The light waves cannot penetrate walls which makes a much shorter range, though more secure from hacking, relative to Wi-Fi.[7][8] Direct line of sight is not necessary for Li-Fi to transmit a signal; light reflected off the walls can achieve 70 Mbit/s.[9][10]

Li-Fi has the advantage of being useful in electromagnetic sensitive areas such as in aircraft cabins, hospitals and nuclear power plants without causing electromagnetic interference.[7][11][8] Both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi transmit data over the electromagnetic spectrum, but whereas Wi-Fi utilizes radio waves, Li-Fi uses visible light. While the US Federal Communications Commission has warned of a potential spectrum crisis because Wi-Fi is close to full capacity, Li-Fi has almost no limitations on capacity.[12] The visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum.[13] Researchers have reached data rates of over 224 Gbit/s, which is much faster than typical fast broadband in 2013.[14][15] Li-Fi is expected to be ten times cheaper than Wi-Fi.[6] Short range, low reliability and high installation costs are the potential downsides.[4][5]

PureLiFi demonstrated the first commercially available Li-Fi system, the Li-1st, at the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.[16]

Bg-Fi is a Li-Fi system consisting of an application for a mobile device, and a simple consumer product, like an IoT (Internet of Things) device, with color sensor, microcontroller, and embedded software. Light from the mobile device display communicates to the color sensor on the consumer product, which converts the light into digital information. Light emitting diodes enable the consumer product to communicate synchronously with the mobile device.[17][18]


Professor Harald Haas, coined the term "Li-Fi" at his 2011 TED Global Talk where he introduced the idea of "Wireless data from every light".[19] He is Chairman of Mobile Communications at the University of Edinburgh and co-founder of pureLiFi.[20]

The general term visible light communication (VLC), whose history dates back to the 1880s, includes any use of the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to transmit information. The D-Light project at Edinburgh's Institute for Digital Communications was funded from January 2010 to January 2012.[21] Haas promoted this technology in his 2011 TED Global talk and helped start a company to market it.[22] PureLiFi, formerly pureVLC, is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) firm set up to commercialize Li-Fi products for integration with existing LED-lighting systems.[23][24] Oledcomm, french company founded by Pr Suat Topsu from Paris-Saclay University (one of the inventors of the LiFi in 2005), launched in May 2017 during the Paris Healthcare Week the first bidirectional lamp dedicated to hospital patient room.

In October 2011, companies and industry groups formed the Li-Fi Consortium, to promote high-speed optical wireless systems and to overcome the limited amount of radio-based wireless spectrum available by exploiting a completely different part of the electromagnetic spectrum.[25]

A number of companies offer uni-directional VLC products, which is not the same as Li-Fi - a term defined by the IEEE 802.15.7r1 standardization committee.[26]

VLC technology was exhibited in 2012 using Li-Fi.[27] By August 2013, data rates of over 1.6 Gbit/s were demonstrated over a single color LED.[28] In September 2013, a press release said that Li-Fi, or VLC systems in general, do not require line-of-sight conditions.[29] In October 2013, it was reported Chinese manufacturers were working on Li-Fi development kits.[30]

In April 2014, the Russian company Stins Coman announced the development of a Li-Fi wireless local network called BeamCaster. Their current module transfers data at 1.25 gigabytes per second but they foresee boosting speeds up to 5 GB/second in the near future.[31] In 2014 a new record was established by Sisoft (a Mexican company) that was able to transfer data at speeds of up to 10 GB/s across a light spectrum emitted by LED lamps.[32]

Recent integrated CMOS optical receivers for Li-Fi systems are implemented with avalanche photodiodes (APDs) which has a low sensitivity.[33] In July 2015, IEEE has operated the APD in Geiger-mode as a single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) to increase the efficiency of energy-usage and makes the receiver more sensitive.[34] Also this operation could be performed as quantum-limited sensitivity that makes receivers detect weak signals from far distance.[33]


Like Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is wireless and uses similar 802.11 protocols; but it uses visible light communication (instead of radio frequency waves), which has much bigger bandwidth.

One part of VLC is modeled after communication protocols established by the IEEE 802 workgroup. However, the IEEE 802.15.7 standard is out-of-date: it fails to consider the latest technological developments in the field of optical wireless communications, specifically with the introduction of optical orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (O-OFDM) modulation methods which have been optimized for data rates, multiple-access and energy efficiency.[35] The introduction of O-OFDM means that a new drive for standardization of optical wireless communications is required.

Nonetheless, the IEEE 802.15.7 standard defines the physical layer (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layer. The standard is able to deliver enough data rates to transmit audio, video and multimedia services. It takes into account optical transmission mobility, its compatibility with artificial lighting present in infrastructures, and the interference which may be generated by ambient lighting. The MAC layer permits using the link with the other layers as with the TCP/IP protocol.[citation needed]

The standard defines three PHY layers with different rates:

  • The PHY 1 was established for outdoor application and works from 11.67 kbit/s to 267.6 kbit/s.
  • The PHY 2 layer permits reaching data rates from 1.25 Mbit/s to 96 Mbit/s.
  • The PHY 3 is used for many emissions sources with a particular modulation method called color shift keying (CSK). PHY III can deliver rates from 12 Mbit/s to 96 Mbit/s.[36]

The modulation formats recognized for PHY I and PHY II are on-off keying (OOK) and variable pulse position modulation (VPPM). The Manchester coding used for the PHY I and PHY II layers includes the clock inside the transmitted data by representing a logic 0 with an OOK symbol "01" and a logic 1 with an OOK symbol "10", all with a DC component. The DC component avoids light extinction in case of an extended run of logic 0's.[citation needed]

The first VLC smartphone prototype was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from January 7–10 in 2014. The phone uses SunPartner's Wysips CONNECT, a technique that converts light waves into usable energy, making the phone capable of receiving and decoding signals without drawing on its battery.[37][38] A clear thin layer of crystal glass can be added to small screens like watches and smartphones that make them solar powered. Smartphones could gain 15% more battery life during a typical day. The first smartphones using this technology should arrive in 2015. This screen can also receive VLC signals as well as the smartphone camera.[39] The cost of these screens per smartphone is between $2 and $3, much cheaper than most new technology.[40]

Philips lighting company has developed a VLC system for shoppers at stores. They have to download an app on their smartphone and then their smartphone works with the LEDs in the store. The LEDs can pinpoint where they are located in the store and give them corresponding coupons and information based on which aisle they are on and what they are looking at.[41]

Home & Building Automation[edit]

It is predicted that future home & building automation [42] will be highly dependent on the Li-Fi technology for being secure & fast. As the light cannot penetrate through walls hence the signal cannot be hacked from a remote location.



In contrast to radio frequency waves used by Wi-Fi, lights cannot penetrate through walls and doors. This makes it more secure and makes it easier to control who can connect to your network.[43] As long as transparent materials like windows are covered, access to a Li-Fi channel is limited to devices inside the room.[44]

Underwater Application[edit]

Most remotely underwater operated vehicles (ROVs) use cables to transmit command, but the length of cables then limits the area ROVs can detect. However, as a light wave could travel through water, Li-Fi could be implemented on vehicles to receive and send back signals.[45]

While it is theoretically possible for Li-Fi to be used in underwater applications, its utility is limited by the distance light can penetrate water. Significant amounts of light do not penetrate further than 200 meters. Past 1000 meters, no light penetrates.[46]


Many treatments now involve multiple individuals, Li-Fi system could be a better system to transmit communication about the information of patients.[47] Besides providing a higher speed, light waves also have little effect on medical instruments and human bodies.[48]


Vehicles could communicate with one another via front and back lights to increase road safety. Also street lights and traffic signals could also provide information about current road situations.[49]


There are many companies around the world developing this technology:

pureLiFi is a technology company based in Edinburgh, co-founded by Harald Haas and Mostafa Afgani. They introduced the world's first LiFi dongle at Mobile World Congress in 2016. They have also collaborated with French company Lucibel to launch the world's first integrated luminaire. [50]

VLNComm is a US based company that has developed desk lamps and LED panels with embedded Li-Fi capabilities. It has been funded by the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

OLEDComm is a French company founded by one of the inventors of LiFi, Suat Topsu. It provides products for indoor positioning and bidirectional modems at 2Mbps able to operate with mass-market LEDs. They are teamed with Basic6 for shopping applications.

– San Diego-based LightPointe, known for point-to-point gigabit Ethernet free space optics and hybrid optical-radio bridges, are developing this technology through Firefly Wireless Networks.

i2cat, located in Barcelona, Spain, is developing location based services.

ByteLight, which has been acquired by the LED manufacturer Acuity Brands

Nakagawa Lab, Japan

Velmenni, in Estonia and India

Zero.1, in Dubai, uses urban LED street lighting for communications infrastructure.<ref>du's joint venture with Zero.1 to bring LiFi to the UAE comes to life Telecom Review 13 April 2016

Axrtek implements MOMO protocols for cross-room distances

Qualcomm, GE, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, OSRAM, Cree, and Samsung are among the larger corporations who are entertaining this technology.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harald Haas. "Harald Haas: Wireless data from every light bulb". 
  2. ^ Tsonev, Dobroslav; Videv, Stefan; Haas, Harald (December 18, 2013). "Light fidelity (Li-Fi): towards all-optical networking". Proc. SPIE. Broadband Access Communication Technologies VIII. 9007 (2). doi:10.1117/12.2044649. 
  3. ^ Sherman, Joshua (30 October 2013). "How LED Light Bulbs could replace Wi-Fi". Digital Trends. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Global Visible Light Communication (VLC)/Li-Fi Technology Market worth $6,138.02 Million by 2018". MarketsandMarkets. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Coetzee, Jacques (13 January 2013). "LiFi beats Wi-Fi with 1Gb wireless speeds over pulsing LEDs". Gearburn. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Condliffe, Jamie (28 July 2011). "Will Li-Fi be the new Wi-Fi?". New Scientist. 
  7. ^ a b Li-Fi – Internet at the Speed of Light, by Ian Lim, the gadgeteer, dated 29 August 2011
  8. ^ a b "Visible-light communication: Tripping the light fantastic: A fast and cheap optical version of Wi-Fi is coming". The Economist. 28 January 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "The internet on beams of LED light". The Science Show. 7 December 2013. 
  10. ^ "PureLiFi aims at combating cyber crime". Ads Advance. 
  11. ^ "Li-Fi: A green avatar of Wi-Fi". Livemint. 9 January 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "The Future's Bright - The Future's Li-Fi". The Caledonian Mercury. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  13. ^ Haas, Harald (19 April 2013). "High-speed wireless networking using visible light". SPIE Newsroom. doi:10.1117/2.1201304.004773. 
  14. ^ Vincent, James (29 October 2013). "Li-Fi revolution: internet connections using light bulbs are 250 times". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "'Li-fi' via LED light bulb data speed breakthrough". BBC News. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "pureLiFi to demonstrate first ever Li-Fi system at Mobile World Congress". Virtual-Strategy Magazine. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  17. ^ Giustiniano, Domenico; Tippenhauer, Nils Ole; Mangold, Stefan. "Low-Complexity Visible Light Networking with LED-to-LED Communication" (PDF). Zurich, Switzerland. 
  18. ^ Dietz, Paul; Yerazunis, William; Leigh, Darren (July 2003). "Very Low-Cost Sensing and Communication Using Bidirectional LEDs" (PDF). 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Povey,, Gordon. "About Visible Light Communications". pureVLC. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Haas, Harald (July 2011). "Wireless data from every light bulb". TED Global. Edinburgh, Scotland. 
  23. ^ "pureLiFi Ltd". pureLiFi. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  24. ^ "pureVLC Ltd". Enterprise showcase. University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  25. ^ Povey, Gordon (19 October 2011). "Li-Fi Consortium is Launched". D-Light Project. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Watts, Michael (31 January 2012). "Meet Li-Fi, the LED-based alternative to household Wi-Fi". Wired Magazine. 
  28. ^ pureVLC (6 August 2012). "pureVLC Demonstrates Li-Fi Streaming along with Research Supporting World's Fastest Li-Fi Speeds up to 6 Gbit/s". Press release. Edinburgh. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  29. ^ pureVLC (10 September 2013). "pureVLC Demonstrates Li-Fi Using Reflected Light". Edinburgh. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  30. ^ Thomson, Iain (18 October 2013). "Forget Wi-Fi, boffins get 150Mbps Li-Fi connection from lightbulbs: Many (Chinese) hands make light work". The Register. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  31. ^ Li-Fi internet solution from Russian company attracting foreign clients, Russia and India Report, Russia Beyond the Headlines, 1 July 2014
  32. ^ Vega, Anna (14 July 2014). "Li-fi record data transmission of 10GBps set using LED lights". Engineering and Technology Magazine. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  33. ^ a b "Highly Sensitive Photon Counting Receivers for Li-Fi Systems - Lifi Research and Development Centre". Lifi Research and Development Centre. 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  34. ^ Chitnis, D.; Collins, S. (2014-05-01). "A SPAD-Based Photon Detecting System for Optical Communications". Journal of Lightwave Technology. 32 (10): 2028–2034. ISSN 0733-8724. doi:10.1109/JLT.2014.2316972. 
  35. ^ Tsonev, D.; Sinanovic, S.; Haas, Harald (15 September 2013). "Complete Modeling of Nonlinear Distortion in OFDM-Based Optical Wireless Communication". IEEE Journal of Lightwave Technology. 31 (18): 3064–3076. doi:10.1109/JLT.2013.2278675. 
  36. ^ An IEEE Standard for Visible Light Communications, dated April 2011. It is superfast modern intelnet technology.
  37. ^ Breton, Johann (20 December 2013). "Li-Fi Smartphone to be Presented at CES 2014". Digital Versus. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  38. ^ Rigg, Jamie (January 11, 2014). "Smartphone concept incorporates LiFi sensor for receiving light-based data". Engadget. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  39. ^ An Internet of Light: Going Online with LEDs and the First Li-Fi Smartphone, Motherboard Beta, Brian Merchant
  40. ^ Van Camp, Jeffrey (2014-01-19). "Wysips Solar Charging Screen Could Eliminate Chargers and Wi-Fi". Digital Trends. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  41. ^ LaMonica, Martin (18 February 2014). "Philips Creates Shopping Assistant with LEDs and Smart Phone". IEEE Spectrum. 
  42. ^ "Li Fi: Boon for future proof home automation". by Noor Ul Mushtaq. Retrieved 2016-11-13. 
  43. ^ "Li-Fi: Lighting the Future of Wireless Networks". Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  44. ^ "Applications of Li-Fi - Lifi Research and Development Centre". Lifi Research and Development Centre. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  45. ^ "Li – Fi Technology, Implementations and Applications" (PDF). International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology (IRJET). 
  46. ^
  47. ^ "Data Services of Li- Fi in Hospital Management- Communication in Hospitals" (PDF). International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR). 
  48. ^ "Get ready for Li-Fi: Ultrafast new technology shown off at tech show". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  49. ^ "Applications of Li-Fi - pureLiFi™". pureLiFi™. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  50. ^ [1], world's first integrated luminaire.