Wi-Fi Through LED Bulbs May Soon Be Possible

Science / Tech

Dads screaming about lights being left on all over the house may soon change their tune. Don’t be surprised if in the near future you hear “Who left all the damn Wi-fi on in every room?!” That would be thanks to researchers at the University of Virginia. They have found a way to transmit wireless data in light waves from LED bulbs. And the kicker is: it’s faster and more reliable than the current method.

Today we connect laptops, tablets and phones to a wireless radio signal transmitted through routers connected to internet modems. The new system, developed by University of Virginia engineering professor Maite Brandt-Pearce and her former student Mohammad Noshad, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, relies on light waves emitted by LED lights. They are dubbing it “Li-Fi” and it can transmit data at speeds of 300 megabits per second. The light fixtures will of course still need to be connected to the internet but will not require any additional energy beyond what is already being used to power the lights themselves. Unlike radio waves, data-transmitting light waves will not interfere with some equipment, like the ones found in hospitals making them safer to use in certain environments. Due to the broad bandwidth of visible light, the LED lights can also interconnect, creating a network of data flow from room to room of any environment without needing any additional equipment:

“Anything with an LED can talk to anything else with an LED. You don’t need a separate transmitter because you are not using radio waves.” – Mohammad Noshad.

There are of course downsides: Any device attempting to utilize these light waves would need to be equipped with specific optical receivers; something no current mainstream devices have. Furthermore, each LED light will only connect to devices that are in clear line of sight since light waves are stopped by opaque surfaces, such as walls. Although the researches claim that this brings a whole new level of security, you would need a network of these bulbs to carry a stable signal throughout a home or office. None of this is insurmountable, but infrastructures for any new technology must always be considered.

Pearce and Noshad envision a wide array of applications for their technology:

“We can make different products, such as a large LED panel for shopping centers, airports and conference rooms… And we can build LED bulbs for use in the home.” – Mohammad Noshad.

So the next time some jerk is flashing his high-beams at you, don’t be mad, he may just be trying to send you the new Muse album.

  Source: Tech Times
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