By Marcos Martinez, MaxLinear (Standardization expert and chair of HomeGrid Forum CWG)
Light Communication (Li-Fi), previously known as Visual Light Communication, is a priority focus area for HomeGrid Forum as we look to expand the innovation and deployment of technologies based on G.hn for newly emerging Li-Fi applications. As demand for reliable connectivity increases, it is vital that the network infrastructure is capable of rising to the challenge. This is where Li-Fi can make a difference, as it is an exciting technology which will provide secure, spectrum-saving and reliable connectivity.
A new technology with potential
Li-Fi is a wireless communication technology which uses LEDs to transmit data at high speeds over the visible light, ultraviolet and infrared spectrums. Currently, the Li-Fi market is valued at over USD 295 million, making it a great opportunity for HomeGrid Forum innovators. Li-Fi enables sensitive data to be transmitted between multiple connected devices, with the light spectrum providing low latency and avoiding the interruption that can often happen with congested radio frequency spectrum. It offers huge potential as the broadband ecosystem worldwide looks to meet rising connectivity demands.
Li-Fi and Wi-Fi
While it is possible to compare and contrast the abilities of Li-Fi and Wi-Fi, both are wireless technologies that complement each other. While Wi-Fi provides freedom of movement, as signals can extend throughout the home and walls to ensure full home coverage, Li-Fi leverages the physical barriers of the LiFi covered area to provide a better isolation between networks. This means that Li-Fi and Wi-Fi both work well in different environments, depending on the needs and requirements of the situation.
As Li-Fi requires a line of sight, it cannot pass through walls. This means it significantly reduces electromagnetic interferences and does not affect sensitive devices, unlike the interference that is sometimes experienced with Wi-Fi. In environments where electromagnetic interference may be a regular issue, such as in a hospital, Li-Fi provides an alternative technology which enables fast connectivity.
Perfect for sensitive data sharing
According to Forbes, all records were broken in 2020 when it came to data lost in breaches and the sheer volume of cyber-attacks on companies, government and individuals. We are living in a digitally driven world, where a rising number of devices and technologies are generating more data than ever before. Protecting devices and networks is a huge priority, and Li-Fi can offer a secure and safe way to transfer data in an environment where radio-based connectivity is prohibited or unwanted.
As light waves cannot penetrate walls, Li-Fi technology is well placed for environments such as airports, industries or government buildings, where more sensitive information is stored that may be a target of a cyber-attack. Li-Fi eliminates the risk of data interception by outsiders which are out of sight, a huge benefit in a time where data breaches and hacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
G.hn ecosystem collaboration
For LiFi to reach its full connectivity potential, it will require a robust, reliable and proven physical layer encoding technology and a strong, solid backbone that connects the LEDs. G.hn technology is the perfect solution for both these needs.
Therefore, as a member of the G.hn ecosystem, Li-Fi is an important focus for HomeGrid Forum. Together, we can ensure the end-to-end coexistence and interoperability needed for the future success of this technology. We recently discussed the need for collaboration during the Li-Fi Conference, which we presented at alongside some of our members, including Signify.
We are already witnessing Li-Fi products enter the market that are built to ITU standards, such as the Signify ‘Trulifi’ range of products, which is great to see. However, to ensure that Li-Fi has a bright future, the close collaboration between HomeGrid Forum members and industry players is required to drive forward Li-Fi and reap the connectivity rewards this innovative technology offers.
The span of applications of Li-Fi technology is broad, as any technology requiring precise automation and secure connectivity may benefit from it. This includes:
- Smart cities IoT connectivity for public transportation
- Emergency services in hospitals
- Medical robots delivering equipment and drugs to surgery departments of hospitals
- Pharma IoT connected devices and processes
- Meeting rooms in offices highly sensitive to data security
- Connectivity in schools and universities
- Guiding services in museums and exhibitions
- Highest bandwidth Internet connectivity for aeroplane passengers
- Emergency communication during disaster management operations
- Industrial IoT products
- Artificial Intelligence conducted Industry 4.0 processes
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
- Military war fighter equipment
- Submarine communication systems
- Underground and underwater communication systems
If you are interested in working with HomeGrid Forum and contributing to our Li-Fi efforts, please visit: https://homegridforum.org/join/