LiFi use cases
LiFi is a truly fascinating piece of technology as it allows users to experience high-speed, high-efficiency wireless communication while using overhead lighting. It has a variety of key features such as providing efficient illumination, high data rate capacity, and security, among others. Because of these key features, a variety of applications, known as use cases, have been identified. These include:
The integration of LiFi into smart buildings can make them more efficient, especially in the delivery of useful building services for the occupants. This is done by improving the connectivity between appliances such as television sets, air conditioning units, refrigerators, and computers, among others, by delivering high speed, high capacity data connection for the internet of things. It also provides energy-efficient illumination for buildings in urban areas where sufficient natural illumination is difficult to achieve.
Dense Urban Environments
Dense urban environments tend to have high degrees of competition for radio frequency signals for cellular and WiFi connections. High levels of competition for RF signals can significantly decrease the data transmission capacity of access points. As a complementary technology, the installation of LiFi on lighting infrastructure within the building can help alleviate congestion in WiFi systems and increase its data transmission capacity. This allows users to enjoy high rates of data access in areas with plenty of illumination. For instance, living rooms, hotel lobbies or corridors, or even reception halls can provide users with greater access to high amounts of data.
In outside areas within an urban setting, LiFi-enabled street lamps can be used to provide access to the internet as they can function as access points. By employing LiFi-enabled street lamps, users are able to enjoy both efficient illumination at night and high-speed data communication. This can be done as an alternative to the deployment of multiple radio base stations in every city for maximum coverage, which could incur high costs for installation and land lease.
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Indoor Positioning System
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) make use of GPS satellites in space in order to provide location data. For mobile users, this data is acquired through the use of mobile phone location services. However, these are inaccurate. Some manufacturers increase its accuracy by using other methods to determine location through an indoor positioning system through Bluetooth or WiFi connections. These systems are often inaccurate and require significant overhead just to improve their efficiency. Light can be used for accurate indoor positioning systems by setting each light source to transmit different sets of data. Each LiFi-enabled light source can send a unique code that corresponds to specific locations. These codes are then decoded by smartphones using phone apps. Once decoded, the position of the specific light source will be found and shown on an electric map on a user’s smartphone. This can be useful in a variety of situations such as an easy locator of parking spots in large parking spaces, electronic maps for museums, or even for delivery of content at retail establishments.
There are certain industries and environments that still require the transport of high volumes of data but are unable to due to the hazardous nature of the environment. This means that using additional electrical equipment coupled with radio frequencies could potentially result in something catastrophic. LED lights used in LiFi systems require less energy and emit less heat during data transmission, allowing the transport of data even in hazardous environments.
Vehicle and Transportation
The bulbs used for car headlights and tail lights are mostly halogen-based but are steadily being replaced with those made from LED. This presents a wonderful opportunity for the development and application of technologies that improve road safety by enabling car-to-car communication through LiFi. These technologies can be in the form of warning systems to warn against incoming collisions or those that allow the easy exchange of information between cars on traffic, weather, or road conditions. Additionally, LED traffic lights allow more efficient traffic management systems such as continually updating cars with optimal routes to take at certain hours or with information on certain emergency events at different locations.
Defense and Security
Existing technologies pose significant threats to security as they can be vulnerable to data leakage or data loss. While some may opt to use private networks for such a case, they are still vulnerable to security issues. Additionally, the probability of data being hacked is high. That is why significant investments are needed in order to ensure the security of information transferred and stored over the network as well as ensure the stability of the connection to avoid data loss. For this reason, the role of LiFi in defense and security has been identified to be quite immense due to its intrinsic ability to secure data. That is because light can be easily contained where it is established, confining connections where the light from the source touches and preventing external attacks. Variations in security levels to individual as well as groups of lights allow the application of sophisticated geo-fencing techniques to vastly improve the security of the connection.
Hospitals and Healthcare
Many healthcare environments forbid the use of electronics, especially those that make use of radio frequencies, because these radio frequencies may interfere with sensitive hospital equipment. This means the use of cellphones and WiFi-enabled devices are forbidden near special areas within a hospital. Through the use of LiFi-enabled lighting, equipment interference can be avoided while also providing a less expensive, more reliable mode of communication between equipment, or between people (staff-to-patient). This can be applied in the monitoring of patients, hospital security, storage or transport of hospital patient records, or emergency situations that necessitate instant communication.
The main concern with electronics use in airlines mid-flight is that these devices may create electromagnetic interference with sensitive radio equipment on the flight deck. LiFi technology can be deployed on airlines for easier delivery of content on-board the plane while also eliminating data rates, the need for extra wiring, and radio frequency interference. With the use of on-board LiFi systems for data connections, airlines are able to easily deliver pre-flight instructions, deliver in-flight movies and games, and even create additional channels for communication between airline staff.
The use of LiFi in augmented reality is similar to its use in indoor positioning systems wherein each LED light can provide localized information. The information contained within the light is different, however, as it can provide other information that can supplement what is seen in real life. This can be applied excellently in providing directions or in museum exhibits. Information carried by specific LED lights can be processed and interpreted by smartphone apps in order to improve their experience while viewing each exhibit.
In retail, LED lights can be used to deliver specific content to shoppers browsing through different items while in a store. The data being transmitted can be in the form of supplemental information about an item to nudge them in the right direction. These can also be advertising materials to inform customers about special offers and coupons. Catalog information can also be provided in order to inform customers about other products the store has to offer.
Currently, communication underwater is next to impossible because radio waves are quickly absorbed in water. In contrast, light can easily travel in water and is able to penetrate for large distances. This can be used to enable communication between divers, diver to mini-sub, the diver to a drilling rig, or even military communication underwater.
Disaster Relief Operations
Reliable communication is key to navigating disaster operations right after a catastrophe. In the event of a disaster, LiFi technology can be used to enable communications with the disaster relief operations command center and maintain communications during a response. It can provide a safe, reliable two-way communication channel that offers reliable performance in disaster situations.
LiFi can be integrated into school systems to greatly improve educational and administrative services within educational institutions. It can be used to provide faster internet access to facilitate learning. Its indoor positioning capabilities can be used to improve the attendance of classes through better monitoring. This can be used to improve monitoring of books inside libraries. Above all, it can be used to greatly improve the speed in which information is transferred and delivered to those who need it.
WiFi Spectrum Relief
The US Federal Communications Commission, the federal agency in charge of spectrum allocation, forecasted a potential spectrum shortage due to a great increase in the demand for wireless connectivity and limitations in the spectrum of radio frequencies. As the demand continues to decrease, the supply for wireless connections continues to diminish, creating an imbalance between the supply and demand. This shortage increases network congestion, leading to slower service and increasing prices. LiFi has little to no limitations on its capacity since the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum. Enabling the use of LiFi not only provides additional spectra for use, but it also frees up radio frequencies already in use.