WiFi? Phhhh. Try Sending Data by a Light Bulb

Physicist Herald Haas calls it 'Visible Light Communication'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 30, 2012 5:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Think WiFi is amazing? How about LiFi, a technology in the works that could transmit data at amazingly high speeds from everyday light bulbs, CNN reports. German physicist Herald Haas is working on the process that could revolutionize movie downloads, cell phone calls, and anything that uses radio wave signals or 3G. His idea is to put a microchip in an LED light bulb that makes it blink very quickly. He calls the technology Visible Light Communication, or VLC.

It's like sending Morse code by flashlight, "but at a much faster rate and using the alphabet that computers understand," says Haas. And by "faster," he means up to one gigabyte per second. His critics contend that light can't penetrate objects, and cell phones can't transmit back to light bulbs, but Haas says LiFi is meant to complement WiFi, not replace it: "If the light signal is blocked, or when you need to use your device to send information—you can seamlessly switch back over to radio waves."

Will people one day be downloading movies from one of these?
Will people one day be downloading movies from one of these?   (Shutterstock)
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