new spin-out from the University of Edinburgh has embarked on
pioneering R&D to throw light on an alternative to wireless radio
Ltd (Visible Light Communications) is to launch the first prototype
‘Li-Fi’ technology application which will see LED light carry optical
wireless communication streams, as an alternative to conventional Wi-Fi,
using VLC’s IP technology SIM-OFDM and optical spatial modulation.
allows LED light to modulate at a rate so fast as to be imperceptible
to the human eye, but which can be picked up by receivers such as
suitably configured smart-phone cameras at speeds of hundreds of
megabits per second, enabling the light source to transmit data.
the idea of transmitting data via the visible light spectrum is not
new, the development of super high-speed transmission using
off-the-shelf LED light bulbs initially came from research carried out
by Professor Harald Haas, Professor of Mobile Communications,School of
Engineering/Institute of Digital Communications, University of
research created the technology that can transfer vast quantities of
information across a spectrum 10,000 times wider than the radio
Gordon Povey, CEO of VLC, has overseen the recent company spin-out,
working in partnership with Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), the
university’s research and commercialisation office. He believes the
company is on the cusp of a quantum leap forward in transforming data
communication, which may eventually lead to a migration away from our
dependence on radio communication.
research has shown that using LED light as the carrier, we can achieve
data rate speeds well in excess of current Wi-Fi configurations,” says
of the key issues is with data capacity—at the rate we currently adopt
wireless data, we will ultimately run out of radio spectrum as we cope
with the long term demand of wireless data transmissions and the
trillions of bytes of data communicated every month,” says Povey.
“Turning a light source—a simple household LED bulb for example—into a
localized data communications center is a potentially viable
alternative. Where we have an LED light source configured with VLC’s own
IP, we have a powerful method of carrying data, not just in a single
data stream, but thousands of data streams in parallel at high speed.
it can be used in intrinsically safe environments—petrochemical plants,
hospitals, aircraft, etc where the use of radio frequency Wi-Fi can
have restrictions. Our research has shown that the long term potential
for Li-Fi over Wi-Fi is one which cannot be ignored.”