In the B2B world, when a subject, technology, trend or product makes its way to an expo floor, it is typically worth the attention. Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, top lighting engineers, infrastructure owners, and distributors gathered in London for the 2017 LuxLive Exhibition. The theme for this year’s show was, “Lighting Is Changing.” And the hot new topic of change was none other than: Li-Fi.
Using the theme to explore how lighting will be integral to the next generation of digital and smart technologies, one of the two “Inspiration” sections in the exhibit hall was completely dedicated to a Li-Fi experience.
“[Li-Fi] could transform lighting into a backbone for information and free up congestion on traditional Wi-Fi networks,” the LuxLive website stated.
lightED has been exploring the forefront of Li-Fi, publishing articles and reports to keep the industry up to date on this new technology. But, it seems that a crash course is most fitting now that the technology is playing out on bigger stages. So with this simple list containing all of the Li-Fi basics, the goal is to equip the industry with the knowledge it needs to make informed decisions about the new technology.
To compile this list, lightED consulted with a stateside industry leader when it comes to Li-Fi: Linmore LED. Linmore is an American-made, high-performance lighting manufacturer that offers high-efficacy, DLC-approved, low-energy solutions. Linmore was one of the first companies in the world to develop a Li-Fi-enabled light bar. The light bars are designed to fit into any of the estimated 3-4 billion existing fluorescent tubes in fluorescent fixtures.
A trailblazer in the lighting industry for decades, Linmore is led by a management team with a wide breadth of backgrounds including lighting design, manufacturing, and contracting. Linmore’s vice president, John Gilmore, took the time to share his Li-Fi insights in order to compile the five need-to-knows that follow.
1. Defining Li-Fi
Li-Fi is an accepted abbreviation for Light Fidelity, which is a system of Visible Light Communications (VLC). The system runs on wireless communications that travel at high speeds.
2. How Li-Fi Works
Light emitting diodes (LED) enable the transfer of data. The LEDs are modulated at a very high rate of speed to allow the data to be transmitted through the visible light. A USB is installed into a computer with an infrared eye and a cone in order to actually send the data, using a cat 5 cable. Because Li-Fi can be powered by cat 5-6 cabling, there are considerable opportunities for the technology in the low-voltage marketplace.
3. Wi-Fi vs. Li-Fi
Li-Fi is not considered a replacement for Wi-Fi. Li-Fi is designed to supplement Wi-Fi. A major reason for this is that Li-Fi requires visible light to transmit data and is, therefore, not designed for every application. Another factor is that with the increase in mobile devices being used today, there is a need for more than one way to transmit data.
4. Li-Fi’s Key Customer
Currently, the target customers for Li-Fi are companies and governments that need a secure internet signal, as Li-Fi’s requirement of visible light for data transmission makes it a safe bet. The only way that a Li-Fi signal can be penetrated is through the light spectrum. Unlike Wi-Fi, light doesn’t travel through walls, which makes the data impossible to hack.
5. Li-Fi’s Market Potential
It is expected that Li-Fi will begin to penetrate the smart technology market over the next 1-2 years. Once phone companies and computer manufacturers begin to incorporate Li-Fi chips in devices, market adoption will grow significantly and the initial cost will come down.