China is having a light-bulb moment. Scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics have discovered that a microchip embedded one-watt LED bulb is capable of emitting Wi-Fi, with enough signal strength to provide internet for four computers.
The discovery, aptly named “Li-Fi,” relies on the use of special LED light bulb that operate with light as the carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies.
Data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second were achieved with the new Li-Fi connection, making it faster, cheaper and more energy efficient than traditional Wi-Fi signals.
Li-Fi apparently only uses five percent of the energy required to power Wi-Fi-emitting devices, which rely on energy cooling systems to supply Internet to cell towers and Wi-Fi stations.
Though the discovery has huge potential in the way we use Internet connection, Li-Fi is still in a crude testing stage, since it doesn’t work if the light bulb is turned off or if light bulbs are blocked. That doesn’t seem like such a huge burden, though: it just means you’ll have to leave your lights on if you want to surf the Web. No more online shopping binges in the dark!
Li-Fi demonstrations will take place on November 5 in Shanghai at the International Industry Fair, where 10 kits will be tested out. A bright future seems to be in store for Li-Fi usage, which could range from using car headlights or focused light to transmit data, among many other potential applications.