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Cellphones Wireless Networking Technology

Internet By Light Promises To Leave Wi-Fi Eating Dust (yahoo.com) 205

schwit1 writes: Connecting your smartphone to the web with just a lamp - that is the promise of Li-Fi, short for 'light fidelity,' which features Internet access that is 100 times faster than Wi-Fi. French start-up Oledcomm demonstrated the revolutionary wireless technology at the Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, this week. As soon as this smartphone was placed under an office lamp, it started playing a video. The big advantage of Li-Fi is theoretical speeds of over 200 Gbps.
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Internet By Light Promises To Leave Wi-Fi Eating Dust

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  • So fucking what (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:19PM (#51570663)

    You need line of sight, it's nice for a few things but not much.

    • And note that line of sight means un-shaded light bulbs. No thanks.

    • by Jamu ( 852752 )
      I'd say it's useful wherever you currently use wifi under artificial lighting.
      • The thing is it can't replace WiFi, only supplement it. So what's the point? WiFi is already fast enough for about everything I do anyway.

        • Re:So fucking what (Score:4, Informative)

          by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:45PM (#51570855)

          So fucking what is what I started at as well.

          Let's say it has better transmission rates and built in physical security of a sort. Imagine a small lamp device that you put your hand under and get a Johnny Mnemonic style archive loaded into your biometric storage/id chip. Tapping into that signal would be difficult.

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

          Some advances drive new applications when people can see the potential. I'm quite certain we can find a use for 200 Gbps if the everyday use of the technology is sufficiently practical.

        • WiFi isn't really fast in a crowded office.
        • WiFi is fine for blanketing a moderately large area, but it degrades when a lot of people are using it. In a lot of places, you'd like to have one access point per room and no spillover from adjacent rooms. That's exactly what you'd get from LiFi (which is an even more stupid name than WiFi). Stick the access points on the ceiling and they'll likely work anywhere in the room. If you've ever been to FOSDEM, remember what happens when 3,000 geeks in one lecture theatre see the 'WiFi sponsored by Cisco' an
      • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

        I'd say it's useful wherever you currently use wifi under artificial lighting.

        Sure it is. Is your designated wifi use area positioned under a single artificial light? Because mine is neither designated nor illuminable by a single light.

        Imagine an access point with this technology. Now imagine that you need an access point for every room where you want a connection. Now consider that this technology might not work so well with reflected light, and may need more than one access point in a single room to m

        • 60GHz seems meant for a big living room and doing things that would otherwise be a big waste of spectrum such as streaming video from the internet to a tablet, and then to the TV. Display streaming at high bitrate (games or thin client desktop) from the wired desktop in another room to a laptop or laptops. Upload/download with USB 3.x media to or from the file server at silly transfer rates such as ~100MB/s.

          I would find that interesting, with the big desktop and file server on wired ethernet (or desktop tha

        • Now imagine that you need an access point for every room where you want a connection

          At work, we already have an access point in every couple of rooms and complex configurations to make sure that adjacent ones are not on overlapping frequencies (solving the three-colour problem in 3D is not fun). Having an access point per room and no leakage between rooms would be a huge improvement, especially if it allowed seamless migration to and from WiFi for when wander into a signal blackspot.

    • Ceiling lights (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:43PM (#51570839) Homepage

      You need line of sight

      Yes, but don't think "antena" (like having a single light source in a room to which one would need to perfectly align a corresponding transmitter on the smartphone).

      Think "lightbulbs". As in every single energy-saving LED light-bulb on the ceiling of the office openspace is a LiFi transmitter.
      Most often, a phone is left in plain sight on the surface (on the desk, etc.) so its FOMO-owner can quickly glance at it to check for alerts/e-mail/tweets (I think I'm the only alien keeping my phone in a protective holsted on the belt instead of obsessively needing to check my phone like anyone else).

      So most of the time a phone is exposed to light comming from the lighting system and thus could take advantage of high-speed LiFi down-stream.

      ---

      The LED and light bulb industry is facing a small problem : LED-based energy-saving bulbs are so durable and low energy, that one barely needs to replace them. As the older technologies (incandescant or CFL) are progressively replaced, the demand for LED bulbs will get lower and thus the market opportunities of LED bulb maker.

      So that's why they need to find other incentive for people to buy newer one. Overload them with new features!

      Hence why the recent surge of "connected bulbs" that can be turned on or off from an App, with App-controlled colour, with colour conected to the TV's ambilight feature, etc...

      And thus, of course, with no surprise, TFA mentions that Philips (a non negligible LED bulb maker) is also showing interest about LiFi bulbs.

      • Re:Ceiling lights (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:52PM (#51570911)

        It's completely impossible for this technology to actually work.

        For one thing, it would only be one-way: from the light bulbs to your device. There's no easy to go the other direction.

        But aside from that, it's just plain impossible: for your light bulbs to transmit LiFi, they would need a high-speed data connection to them, presumably gigabit Ethernet. This means that you would have to rewire your house to have Ethernet going to every single lightbulb, plus a giant 48-port switch somewhere connecting all these Ethernet lines to your router.

        That isn't going to happen. The cost of the hardware alone is going to be high (24- and 48-port switches aren't cheap, though I guess you could make cheaper versions since they really only need to be transmit-only and don't need to actually switch data between all the bulbs, just distribute it), but the installation cost would be astronomical on any existing building. A WiFi router, OTOH, is dirt cheap and only needs to be installed one place, and will generally give you coverage all over your house.

        • Man, now I know why I kept that POE enabled switch...

        • There might be an application such as broadcasting video or information to, say, a stadium crowd or a convention center crowd. Maybe signs that emit more data about their advertisers, etc. Any application where a one-way local data stream might be useful. There would need to be some standard protocols for interception.
          • by Khyber ( 864651 )

            "There might be an application such as broadcasting video or information to, say, a stadium crowd or a convention center crowd."

            Do you even know what a PROJECTOR is?

        • Re:Ceiling lights (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @07:27PM (#51571137)

          You wouldn't use a switch. The easiest way to do it would be to install some DC LED lights, powered by a single DC power supply somewhere. DC strip lights currently do this, and it's more efficient than having a power supply built into each bulb, so it's probably the way of the future anyway. You'd run ethernet to the DC power supply, which would modulate the power to all the lights. You could wire up all the lights in your house to broadcast a single signal (one port on your router) or you could wire up each room with it's own channel if you wanted more bandwidth. You COULD have separate channels serving individual bits of a single room, but you'd probably only do that if you had very special, high bandwidth needs.

          • The easiest way to do it would be to install some DC LED lights, powered by a single DC power supply somewhere. DC strip lights currently do this, and it's more efficient than having a power supply built into each bulb, so it's probably the way of the future anyway.

            No, it's not. 110VAC is more efficient, even with the conversion losses, because low-voltage DC has too many losses if your wire run is more than a few feet or so. In a house, you're looking at hundreds of feet of wire to connect lighting circu

            • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

              You wouldn't put the converter at the breaker panel.

              You know people use DC strip lights right now, right? Just for the light.

        • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

          A hub would be more useful here and there's an overload of old Cisco hubs filling the racks of GoodWill and Surplus stores.

          I would see UDP being a good fir for this tech as well as doubling as a solar charger but issues of security and efficiency still exist.

        • by c ( 8461 )

          This means that you would have to rewire your house to have Ethernet going to every single lightbulb, plus a giant 48-port switch somewhere connecting all these Ethernet lines to your router.

          Well, you could embed powerline ethernet modules into the light bulbs themselves, and have a single connection between the mains and the router. However, performance isn't going to be all that great. Certainly not enough to make the technology worth the bother.

          • Or a peer to peer network of lights in the house, with a link to the outside world. You could use your porch light to link to surrounding houses and eliminate the ISP entirely (and the speed bottleneck).
        • You can transmit data over AC lines, but it's not as efficient as over a dedicated PoE link. In addition, if the circuit is isolated and/or dedicated, the signal might not pass well or at all.

          • Yeah, you can transmit data over AC, but the speed will be terrible; you'll get better speed just installing a WiFi system. The whole point of this silly one-way LiFi stuff is very high speed to the device, so bottlenecking it with a low-speed data-over-AC connection will make it useless for its intended task.

            • I do video conferencing with RDP / Citrix from my laptop. What I need isn't bandwidth insomuch as rock-solid wireless with next to zero packet loss. I get close to that with the 5Ghz band as the noise floor SNR is so much lower compared to the crowded 2.4Ghz band. With Li-Fi, it's line-of-site, so I wouldn't be getting any foreign signals that would wreck havoc like in the RF spectrum. Honestly, I could live with a 10Mbp/s connection; I'd be ecstatic with 50Mbp/s!! 1Gbp/s would be overkill for my mobile usa

            • Yeah, you can transmit data over AC, but the speed will be terrible

              Not necessarily, if you inject the signal close enough. Getting access to the wall mounted light switch is easier than to my celing lamps, and then it's only a few meters of copper.

        • See above. There are LiFi enabled office lighting systems powered by Ethernet cable. This was shown at the last THREAD meeting. And no, it is not only one way.

        • You can use WiFi for the return traffic, and you can use powerline technology to get the bits to the lamps.
        • For one thing, it would only be one-way: from the light bulbs to your device. There's no easy to go the other direction.

          Which is the direction that consumes most data and which is what ISPs have been doing for quite some time with DSL.

          (Fast download, for consumers. Slow upload, to avoid people running servers so the consumer DSL doesn't compete with their business links)

          But aside from that, it's just plain impossible: for your light bulbs to transmit LiFi, they would need a high-speed data connection to them, presumably gigabit Ethernet. {...} The cost of the hardware alone is going to be high (24- and 48-port switches aren't cheap, though I guess you could make cheaper versions since they really only need to be transmit-only and don't need to actually switch data between all the bulbs, just distribute it), but the installation cost would be astronomical on any existing building.

          Let me introduce you to this funny technology called POF - Plastic Optical Fiber.

          There's been quite a lot of development recently in plastics, and new generations of material that can sustain upto gigabit or multi-gigabits speeds over quite some distance (eno

      • LiFi will not be interesting to almost all home consumers. And, there is no compelling reason it needs to be, given that the average home internet speed is WAY too slow to care about that sort of data rate. Most folks are also not running home media servers either.

        No. What LiFi is really intended for is office space.
        There are a few new LiFi enabled industrial systems that can be powered by LAN cables. This means that the contractor need to only pull the LAN cable, which is far cheaper than running electrica

        • given that the average home internet speed is WAY too slow to care about that sort of data rate

          My home internet speed is 100 Mbps, and that's faster than any of the offices I've worked in. But I agree that offices would be a perfect place for this technology.

    • Most houses have lighting in them, and most new lights are LED based. Just integrate this into the lighting system and you've got gigabit internet in every room of your house. Add filters to the windows to block it (and solar interference) and you've got a nice private high speed wireless connection.
    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      You need line of sight, it's nice for a few things but not much.

      Build the receivers into the top of monitors and it would be great for office use.

    • short for 'light fidelity,'

      It's not short for anything, it's a play on WiFi, which also isn't short for anything but a play on HiFi, which finally is short for something.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      It's really nice for anybody who wants to listen in.

    • Why couldn't you use reflected light ?
  • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:25PM (#51570715)

    The big advantage of Li-Fi is theoretical speeds of over 200 Gbps.

    Sure. What would you use between the lamp and the rest of the world? Power-line ethernet?

  • Morse code? (Score:5, Funny)

    by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:27PM (#51570727)

    The technology uses the frequencies generated by LED bulbs -- which flicker on and off imperceptibly thousands of times a second -- to beam information through the air, leading it to be dubbed the "digital equivalent of Morse Code"

    What the hell is that supposed to mean? Is this supposed to be the first digital communication technology that operates by turning something on and off rapidly?

    • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      Also, I highly doubt they'll get to 200gbps using On-Off Keying. Anything over ~10gbps in the optical transport world uses some form of phase shift keying.

    • Is this supposed to be the first digital communication technology that operates by turning something on and off rapidly?

      Thing is, Joe Sixpack has absolutely no idea how optical fiber networking is working (and in fact calls "optical fiber" a Fibre-to-the-cabinet/-building with coaxial cable connection to the wall). Joe Sixpack hasn't even used an audio TOS-Link connector (HDMI is probably the first time he was unknowingly exposed to digital audio).
      So yeah, Joe Sixpack has no idea how blinking lights can carry information, but Joe Sixpack has probably heard about "Morse code" from TV and/or from his dad.

      ---

      Cue in other cluele

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The frequency if off by several orders of magnitude too. "Thousands of times per second" means 9600 baud modem speeds. In fact it's doubly wrong, most LED lights that use PWM do it in the hundreds of Hertz range rather than the thousands, because fast switching power electronics are more expensive.

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:39PM (#51570803) Journal
    Would be happy to have Wi-Fi eating dust in my home as long as it poops outside!
  • ...with a well placed umbrella.
  • I doubt the requirement for Line Of Sight is convenient enough. You will definitely lose reception if you move outside of the room, or even the hotspot. Also, I fear that broadcasting light waves may be drain batteries faster than the 2.4GHz wireless standards. The article, that is not great, does not show many details from the handset point of view.
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:43PM (#51570837) Homepage

    Connecting your smartphone to the web with just a lamp

    Wow, awesome!

    And here I am connecting to a wireless router without having to stay in the same room like a chump.

    Watching streaming movies in the dark cos I want to like a maroon.

    Being connected without having to turn a lamp on when bright sunlight is flooding in through my windows like a dingus. ...you get the point.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      I am just wandering WTF? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. It's new because you can annoyingly see the light rather than it being hidden from sight. Billions of remote controls in the world right now do this.

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        But if it goes through your overhead lightbulb, it still means it only works when it's turned on, otherwise there's no power since the switch is off ! It's not just a question of visible light / invisible light.
    • You have lamps in every room, don't you? It's not required to use a single source. And as others have said, dedicated IR LEDs probably make more sense than using the visible lightbulbs - they could operate day or night without interfering with our eyeballs.

      Bandwidth demands have been increasing by ~50% annually for the last 30 years. If that continues we've got around 15 years before 200 Gbps starts to look a little pokey. Probably time to start thinking about these sort of solutions, because our current lo

    • Personally I have 90 access points near me (several condo towers) so my 2.4ghz is about 300kbps to 6mbps max., when its not completely overwhelmed by noise (huge packet loss).

      Sure i got a $300 access point, and that works for some devices at 5ghz, but thats what i had to go to. There are only about 20 5ghz APs and i've heard the 5ghz travels less through walls. Its now an arms race with all my neighbours...

      That's the future for most in cities, dense urban environments. So having completely localized networ

  • Li-Fi has one advantage that it at least stands for something.

    • Wi-Fi is a portmanteau of wireless and high-fidelity. The "fidelity" in high-fidelity refers to faithful reproduction of sound.

      Wireless Fidelity strikes me as a malamanteau [xkcd.com], unless you consider its digital nature to be the "fidelity" part. Ditto for Li-Fi IMHO.

  • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @06:48PM (#51570871) Journal

    How does it manage the uplink? Nothing about that in TFA, from what I can see.

    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      wifi of course
      think satellite dish internet with a modem back up... o joyous internetz

    • How does it manage the uplink? Nothing about that in TFA, from what I can see.

      There you go interjecting logic into /. If they pointed out your 200 Gbps becomes 40MBs when it hits your ISP there breakthrough becomes a lot less impressive to the masses.

    • PoE (Power of Ethernet) where both data and power go to LED based lighting.

  • Sme people are effected by fluorescent light's. What is this going to do to people with sensative eyes ?

    I know if there is something funny going on with the power in the house as the compact fluorescent lights start to make my eyes ache.

  • A mad genius that seems to need more money. Hence, the word is out to help fuel the development of more things that we will never need. I read about this some time back. It's the kind of idea that you get when you just smoked some really good bud.
  • by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @07:11PM (#51571047)
    So humans have built in light receptors (eyes) and basically have massively parallel slow processors running a firmware/software mix (brains), how long before someone hacks you through the desk lamp?
  • Light fidelity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barlo_Mung_42 ( 411228 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @07:25PM (#51571115) Homepage

    Stop it. Just stop it.
    Also, can we just agree to stop adding "gate" to the ends of the things bad people do?

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Stop it. Just stop it.
      Also, can we just agree to stop adding "gate" to the ends of the things bad people do?

      I propose we call this phenomena gate-gate.

    • Your post will hence forth be known as LiFigategate in popular media.

  • by trb ( 8509 )
    1895: Lumiere brothers use a lamp to show a motion picture
    2016: LiFi uses a lamp to show a motion picture
  • "Hey, look at my phone! It's playing this video through light networking!"
     
    "Really? Let me see."
     
    (turns phone around)
     
    "Hey, it stopped playing."
     
    :-/

  • but unless this is line of sight then it's probably throwing light everywhere. I'm not sure my eyes would like that. I'm one of those unlucky bastards that could see monitor flicker below 85hz on the old CRTs and my brother is one of those unluckier bastards that gets headaches from florescent lights...
  • by zenlessyank ( 748553 ) on Tuesday February 23, 2016 @08:04PM (#51571343)
    Why the fuck can I not get a call?
  • Now all we need is broadband and storage devices to get near that level of transfer speed to make it even remotely useful.
  • .. to not have an exposed microwave in my house and work.
  • ... You're blocking my Internet!

  • WiFi has no problem working through dust.

  • "As soon as this smartphone was placed under an office lamp, it started playing a video."

    So it's not meant for civil servants, if it starts playing a video unasked, you'll wake up your colleagues in the other cubicles.

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