Earlier people used WiFi to connect only a few devices like laptops, desktops, smartphones to the internet. But as the use of technologies is expanding day by day, people utilize WiFi for connecting most of the electronic gadgets over the network.
Because of the over-exploitation of WiFi in the coming future, we might be running out of the radio-frequency spectrum. Therefore, we need a new wireless technology like LiFi to continuously meet our internet needs.
What do you understand from the words LiFi and WiFi?
As we have traveled a long way in the journey of using the wireless network, now we have LiFi and WiFi, two widely used wireless technologies, out of which one might be the future of wireless technology. Let's first understand what do they mean.
LiFi is a wireless optical data communication and networking technology that uses light waves to transmit wireless data which is embedded into its beam. Especially, it’s a form of Visible Light Communication(VLC) system which uses the light waves from the LED bulbs for sending and receiving data over the internet. So, wherever there will be LED light, there is a possibility to access the internet through LiFi technology. LiFi stands for “Light Fidelity”.
WiFi is also a wireless networking technology that is unavoidable in today's world. It uses radio waves available within the electromagnetic spectrum to connect devices over the Internet for sending and receiving data. And due to the exploitation of radio waves, there is the probability that in the upcoming future we might be running out of the electromagnetic spectrum.
People believe that WiFi stands for "Wireless Fidelity" but it is not completely true. It is just a phrase used to remarked IEEE 802.11x.
Working principles: LiFi vs WiFi
Working Principle of LiFi
LiFi is based on the visual light communications (VLC) system which consists of two components: a transmitter and a receiver. In Li-Fi wireless technology LED bulbs (light source) are transmitters and Photodiode(PD) is a receiver. Multiple LED bulbs used in the Li-Fi system form a wireless network.
When an electric current is supplied to the LED light bulbs which are semiconductor devices, most of the energy is turned into a stream of light rather than heat. These streams of light are then used to send signals at extremely high speed by modulating the lights at different rates. At last, the signals are received by the photodiode which interprets the variations in the intensity of light as transmitted data.
Data transmission via LiFi technology seems to be wireless as radio systems because the intensity modulation cannot be seen through naked eyes.
Working Principle of WiFi
WiFi uses radiofrequency technology, to transmit radio signals wirelessly over the network. The wireless network is comprised of three components: antenna, radio signals, and routers, which are only transmitters of signals. The receivers of radio signals are devices like computers, smartphones, etc ready with WiFi cards.
When the radio signals are transmitted by the antennas and routers, then all the nearby devices in its range, having WiFi cards receive the signals and get connected to it. The WiFi's range may differ based on the environment. As the devices get closer to the source of the signals, stronger would be the connections between them and the speed of the internet also gets increased over the devices.
The connection point of the WiFi network is hotspots, a small hardwired box on the internet. These are created by the WiFi network connection itself in public places like restaurants, railway stations, airports, universities, hostels, etc.
Applications of LiFi and WiFi
Applications of LiFi
There is an unlimited application of LiFi as it will be used for data transmission wherever there is light. A few of them, we will discuss here.
- Use of LiFi in Hospitals: Since the LiFi signals are insensitive to radiofrequency devices used for treatments, so they can be freely used in patient rooms, corridors, waiting rooms, and even inside operating theatres. It can also be used for real-time monitoring of patient movements kept under observation without using any wires.
- Use of LiFi in Workplaces: LiFi in workplaces provide secured wireless connectivity and networking capability so that office staff can continue their conference calls over Skype even when they move from one room to another, without any interruption. It also provides constant internet speed to the workers as well as the visitors who came to the workplace. Using LiFi network access can be controlled more efficiently.
- Use of LiFi in Schools and Universities: Schools and Universities started trailing LiFi for providing unique learning experiences to their students and teachers through such advanced technology. Also, it enables students and teachers to learn stuff using any mobile device. It provides a secure connection not only inside the schools but also in University dorms.
- Use of LiFi with Augmented Reality (AR): Since AR devices are being used in places such as museums to upgrade the experiences of customers, which are operating using WiFi networks. These devices might get slow as the number of customers gets increased.
So, to overcome the problem of poor internet connection we can use LiFi technology, which will provide each exhibit with its own data stream using the LED light bulbs. LiFi not only allows them to enjoy their endless AR experience but also enables them to download the exhibit using the light that highlights those displays.
- LiFi's use Underwater: As the radio signals used by WiFi networking technology are get absorbed by water but the light waves aren't absorbed in it, that's why LiFi is used under the water. This is also the reason due to which the Navy wants to use LiFi for the submarine communication system.
Applications of WiFi
As most electronic gadgets use WiFi technology to connect over the internet, its use is also unavoidable in today’s world. Let’s see some of them here.
- WiFi to connect devices over the Internet: It provides a local network and Internet access to all the devices having WiFi cards that are within the range of the router. The WiFi range can either be an area of a few small rooms and can be extended to many square kilometers.
- Geolocation: WiFi Positioning System finds the device's location using the position of WiFi hotspots.
- Use of WiFi in City-Wide Projects: In these types of projects, different cities of the world announced the plan to develop a citywide WiFi network. One of the successful instances of such a project is "Mysore" which becomes India's first WiFi-enabled city.
Devices Compatible With LiFi And WiFi Technology In Market
So far we have seen about the different applications of LiFi and WiFi technologies, now it's time to know about some of the devices based on these technologies.
Devices based on LiFi Technology are:
- GEOLiFi® LED Tube
- LiFiNET® &/or GEOLiFi® Street Lighting with RAGNI
- LiFiNET® &/or GEOLiFi® Street Lighting with TECHNILUM
- GEOLiFi® Android Tablet
- LiFiMAX® Dongle
- GEOLiFi® OEM Modem
- LiFiMAX Controller®
- 12-95V GEOLIFI® Module for Indoor Positioning
Devices based on WiFi Technology are:
- Google Nest Wifi Router
- Linksys MR8300 Mesh WiFi Router
- Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi
- NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XRM570
- Wavlink Halo Whole Home Mesh WiFi System Simple setup Wireless router replacement WN535K2
- Verizon Novatel Jetpack MiFi 5510L
- NETGEAR Orbi RBK852
- Amazon eero Pro Mesh Wifi System
- Google Nest Wifi Point
- XIAOMI WIFI AMPLIFIER PRO 300MBPS
Comparison between LiFi vs WiFi
Let's see the differences between two networking technology, in which one is an established and widely used network i.e., “WiFi” whereas on the other side there is an upcoming advance network i.e., “LiFi”, based on some parameters are as follow:
|Full-Form||Light Fidelity||Wireless Fidelity|
|Technology||Based on Visible Light Communication(VLC) system.||Based on RadioFrequency(RF) Technology.|
|System’s Components||It requires a number of LED light bulbs (transmitters) and a photodiode (receiver).||It consists of radio signals, antennas, and routers.|
|Operate Using||It uses light waves to transmit wireless data which is embedded into its beam.||It uses radio waves to transmit data that use air as the medium.|
|Interference||Devices using the LIFi network don’t have interference issues due to the presence of other devices nearby as it provides each user with its own data stream using separate LED light bulbs for each.||Devices using the WiFi network have interference issues due to the presence of other routers nearby as the radiofrequency waves can penetrate through the walls.|
|Applications||Used in schools &universities, operation theaters of hospitals, airports for internet browsing and for submarine communication system underwater, etc.||Used for internet browsing as well as for identifying device’s locations using the WiFi hotspots.|
|Privacy||Since light waves are unable to penetrate through walls so they provide more secured data transfer.||As the radio waves are capable of passing through the buildings, so for secure data transfer, some techniques need to be employed.|
|Data Transfer Speed||Li-Fi transfers data with a speed of about 1Gbps.||WiFi speeds range from 150Mbps to a maximum of 2Gbps.|
|Operation Frequency||About 10,000 times the frequency spectrum of radio waves.||Its frequency of operation can be 2.4Ghz, 4.9Ghz, and 5Ghz.|
|Data Density||Li-Fi works easily in highly dense environments.||WiFi faces difficulty while working in dense environments due to interference issues.|
Pros and Cons - LiFi vs WiFi
Pros and Cons of using LiFi are:
- Speed: As the visible light spectrum is almost 10,000 larger than the electromagnetic spectrum occupied by the radio waves, so LiFi is capable of carrying a huge amount of data as compared to radio waves. That's why the speed of data transfer using LiFi is 10,000 times faster than WiFi.
- Security: Data transmission using the LiFi network is more secure than, the one using the WiFi network. This reason behind this is that light waves are blocked by opaque objects such as walls but the radio waves can easily invade through such objects and create interference issues.
- Efficiency: LiFi technologies use LED light bulbs which convert most of the electric current into light rather than heat, which are already cheaper and energy-efficient. LiFi technologies only provide a different way and purpose of using the light waves coming out of these LED bulbs. The only condition for using them as a component in LiFi technologies is that they need to be connected 24/7 from a power supply source.
- Availability: A few years from now, when everyone will be able to access modern technologies, then each and every light source either it's a streetlight, headlights of a vehicle, or a building light, communicate with each other wirelessly so that everyone would be able to access the internet, wherever they are.
- Range: As the light waves get blocked by opaque objects, so LiFi has a limited range up to which data can be transmitted. To increase the scope of the LiFi network we need to place the LED light source in a hall or in larger closed space. In open space, the coverage area for LiFi is only up to 10 meters.
- Compatibility: As LiFi technologies are not very established till now, so most of today's devices don't support this new LiFi network. And it's rarely possible that LiFi supporting devices may get developed in a couple of years.
Pros and Cons of using WiFi are:
- Better Efficiency: Since WiFi is one of the most powerful wireless networks, it is used to provide an internet speed of 8 MB per second which is significantly higher than other networks.
- Availability: To use WiFi we do not need any cables to connect to the network, just need to switch on the WiFi option on gadgets.
- Cost-efficient: As it is a widely used wireless network in today's world, so it is available at a cheaper rate. Most of the companies also provide WiFi network free for their employees.
- Download speed: Since WiFi operate at a high speed so smaller files can be downloaded in less than a minute or only in a few seconds whereas larger files may take few more minutes.
- Security: Transferring data using WiFi is not secure as radio waves from other routers of hackers may create interference issues to breach the sensitive data transmitting over the network.
- Installation process: As the WiFi network uses radio waves for networking and communication over the internet, which are not good for our health. That’s why in places like hospitals use of mobile phones is not allowed. To keep ourselves safe from such harmful rays we need to install them at a proper location.
Demands in current scenarios - LiFi vs WiFi
As we have seen so far that LiFi is a brand new technology that is developed but till now it is not accessible to the general public. The trails for it is started by most of the airline companies and corporations to improve their internet connection. And only a few Li-Fi compatible devices are available in the market, so the use of Li-Fi technologies over a wider range is not possible for at least for now.
The use of the WiFi network is unavoidable in the current scenario, as it is used for connecting almost every electronic device over the network such as computers, laptops, printers, smartphones, scanners, televisions, etc.
This is because most of the devices developing nowadays are WiFi compatible devices with WiFi cards embedded into it. The WiFi network is also used for finding devices, through WiFi hotspots.
Future of WiFi and LiFi Technologies
Technologies are getting more and more advance as we are moving toward the era of the Internet of Everything(IOE). In this era, almost everything is going to connect over the internet. And to handle such a huge amount of devices over the internet alone through WiFi is not possible, due to over-exploitation of it we will be running out of the radio frequency spectrum in the near future.
So there is a need for such networking technology that can handle such a large amount of gadgets over the network efficiently without any interference due to the presence of other devices on the network.
LiFi networking technology is the one that not only can handle such a huge number of devices over the internet but can also transfer 10,000 times more data as compared to the WiFi network. The company pureLifi started by Professor Herald Haas in 2012, is researching continuously for new advancements in this field. There is also a possibility of inventing LiFi compatible devices in the near future.
In spite of all these things, it is impossible to replace WiFi networking technology completely.
Since, the earlier WiFi network, 802.11a/b/g/n got collapsed as the number of devices increased over the network. The Broadcom released its first 5G WiFi chip at Consumer Electronics Show in 2012. This 5G WiFi chip is the new WiFi standard, 802.11ac which is 3times faster and 6times more efficient than the previous versions of chips.
In this article, we have gone through two different forms of wireless technology. One is LiFi a wireless optical data communication and networking technology that uses light waves to transmit data, which is embedded into the light beam.
On the other hand, WiFi is a widely used wireless networking technology that uses radiofrequency waves to transmit data and connect various devices over the internet.
LiFi technology is based on the Visible Light Communication(VLC) system, having two components, LED light bulbs as transmitters of light signals and photodiode as the receivers of data transmitted over the light waves. Whereas WiFi networking is based on RadioFrequency technology, comprises of three components: radio signals, routers, and antennas. Both of them are completely different from each other.
LiFi technologies are used in schools, hospitals, workplaces, Pharmacies, and the Pharmaceutical Industry, etc for different purposes such as browsing over the internet, transmitting data. Whereas WiFi technology is mostly used for internet browsing, or sometimes also used for identifying devices through WiFi hotspots.
Transmitting data using LiFi technology is localized, safe and much faster as compared to the data transmission performed using the WiFi network.
In the future, despite providing all these advantages, the Li-Fi network will not be able to take the place of the WiFi network entirely, as nothing is perfect in this universe.
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