Li-Fi (also written as LiFi) is a wireless communication technology which utilizes light to transmit data and position between devices. The term was first introduced by Harald Haas during a 2011 TEDGlobal talk in Edinburgh.[1]

Li-Fi Technology
IntroducedMarch 2011; 11 years ago (2011-03)
IndustryDigital Communication
Connector typeVisible light communication
Physical rangevisible light spectrum, ultraviolet and infrared radiation

In technical terms, Li-Fi is a light communication system that is capable of transmitting data at high speeds over the visible light, ultraviolet, and infrared spectrums. In its present state, only LED lamps can be used for the transmission of data in visible light.[2]

In terms of its end use, the technology is similar to Wi-Fi — the key technical difference being that Wi-Fi uses radio frequency to induce a voltage in an antenna to transmit data, whereas Li-Fi uses the modulation of light intensity to transmit data. Li-Fi is able to function in areas otherwise susceptible to electromagnetic interference (e.g. aircraft cabins, hospitals, military).[3]

Technology detailsEdit

Li-Fi modules

Li-Fi is a derivative of optical wireless communications (OWC) technology, which uses light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as a medium to deliver network, mobile, high-speed communication in a similar manner to Wi-Fi.[4] The Li-Fi market was projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 82% from 2013 to 2018 and to be worth over $6 billion per year by 2018.[5] However, the market has not developed as such and Li-Fi remains with a niche market, mainly for technology evaluation.

Visible light communications (VLC) works by switching the current to the LEDs off and on at a very high speed,[6] too quick to be noticed by the human eye, thus, it does not present any flickering. Although Li-Fi LEDs would have to be kept on to transmit data, they could be dimmed to below human visibility while still emitting enough light to carry data.[7] This is also a major bottleneck of the technology when based on the visible spectrum, as it is restricted to the illumination purpose and not ideally adjusted to a mobile communication purpose. Technologies that allow roaming between various Li-Fi cells, also known as handover, may allow to seamlessly transition between Li-Fi. The light waves cannot penetrate walls which translates to a much shorter range, and a lower hacking potential, relative to Wi-Fi.[8][9] Direct line of sight is not necessary for Li-Fi to transmit a signal; light reflected off walls can achieve 70 Mbit/s.[10][11]

Li-Fi has the advantage of being useful in electromagnetic sensitive areas such as in aircraft cabins, hospitals and nuclear power plants without causing electromagnetic interference.[8][12][9] Both Wi-Fi and Li-Fi transmit data over the electromagnetic spectrum, but whereas Wi-Fi utilizes radio waves, Li-Fi uses visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. While the US Federal Communications Commission has warned of a potential spectrum crisis because Wi-Fi is close to full capacity, Li-Fi has almost no limitations on capacity.[13] The visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum.[14] Researchers have reached data rates of over 224 Gbit/s,[15] which was much faster than typical fast broadband in 2013.[16][17] Li-Fi is expected to be ten times cheaper than Wi-Fi.[7] Short range, low reliability and high installation costs are the potential downsides.[5][6]

PureLiFi demonstrated the first commercially available Li-Fi system, the Li-1st, at the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.[18]

Bg-Fi is a Li-Fi system consisting of an application for a mobile device, and a simple consumer product, like an IoT (Internet of Things) device, with color sensor, microcontroller, and embedded software. Light from the mobile device display communicates to the color sensor on the consumer product, which converts the light into digital information. Light emitting diodes enable the consumer product to communicate synchronously with the mobile device.[19][20]


Professor Harald Haas coined the term "Li-Fi" at his 2011 TED Global Talk where he introduced the idea of "wireless data from every light".[21] He is Professor of Mobile Communications at the University of Edinburgh, and the co-founder of pureLiFi along with Dr Mostafa Afgani.

The general term "visible light communication" (VLC), whose history dates back to the 1880s, includes any use of the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to transmit information. The D-Light project at Edinburgh's Institute for Digital Communications was funded from January 2010 to January 2012.[22] Haas promoted this technology in his 2011 TED Global talk and helped start a company to market it.[23] PureLiFi, formerly pureVLC, is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) firm set up to commercialize Li-Fi products for integration with existing LED-lighting systems.[24][25]

In October 2011, a research organisation Fraunhofer IPMS and industry Companies formed the Li-Fi Consortium, to promote high-speed optical wireless systems and to overcome the limited amount of radio-based wireless spectrum available by exploiting a completely different part of the electromagnetic spectrum.[26]

A number of companies offer uni-directional VLC products, which is not the same as Li-Fi - a term defined by the IEEE 802.15.7r1 standardization committee.[27]

VLC technology was exhibited in 2012 using Li-Fi.[28] By August 2013, data rates of over 1.6 Gbit/s were demonstrated over a single color LED.[29] In September 2013, a press release said that Li-Fi, or VLC systems in general, do not require line-of-sight conditions.[30] In October 2013, it was reported Chinese manufacturers were working on Li-Fi development kits.[31]

In April 2014, the Russian company Stins Coman announced the development of a Li-Fi wireless local network called BeamCaster. Their current module transfers data at 1.25 gigabytes per second (GB/s) but they foresee boosting speeds up to 5 GB/s in the near future.[32] In 2014 a new record was established by Sisoft (a Mexican company) that was able to transfer data at speeds of up to 10 GB/s across a light spectrum emitted by LED lamps.[33]

Recent integrated CMOS optical receivers for Li-Fi systems are implemented with avalanche photodiodes (APDs) which are highly sensitive devices.[34] In July 2015, IEEE has operated the APD in Geiger-mode as a single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) to increase the efficiency of energy-usage and makes the receiver even more sensitive.[35] This operation could be also performed as quantum-limited sensitivity that makes receivers able to detect weak signals from a far distance.[34]

In June 2018, Li-Fi passed a test by a BMW plant in Munich for operating in an industrial environment.[36] BMW project manager Gerhard Kleinpeter hopes for the miniaturization of Li-Fi transceivers, for Li-Fi to be efficiently used in production plants.[37]

in August 2018, Kyle Academy, a secondary school in Scotland, had pilot the use of Li-Fi within the school. Students are able to receive data through a connection between their laptop computers and a USB device that is able to translate the rapid on-off current from the ceiling LEDs into data.[38]

In June 2019, French company Oledcomm tested their Li-Fi technology at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Oledcomm hopes to collaborate with Air France in the future to test Li-Fi on an aircraft in-flight.[39]


Like Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is wireless and uses similar 802.11 protocols, but it also uses ultraviolet, infrared and visible light communication (instead of radio frequency waves), which has a much larger bandwidth.

One part of VLC is modeled after communication protocols established by the IEEE 802 workgroup. However, the IEEE 802.15.7 standard is out-of-date: it fails to consider the latest technological developments in the field of optical wireless communications, specifically with the introduction of optical orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (O-OFDM) modulation methods which have been optimized for data rates, multiple-access, and energy efficiency.[40] The introduction of O-OFDM means that a new drive for standardization of optical wireless communications is required.

Nonetheless, the IEEE 802.15.7 standard defines the physical layer (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layer. The standard is able to deliver enough data rates to transmit audio, video, and multimedia services. It takes into account optical transmission mobility, its compatibility with artificial lighting present in infrastructures, and the interference which may be generated by ambient lighting. The MAC layer permits using the link with the other layers as with the TCP/IP protocol.[citation needed]

The standard defines three PHY layers with different rates:

  • The PHY 1 was established for outdoor application and works from 11.67 kbit/s to 267.6 kbit/s.
  • The PHY 2 layer permits reaching data rates from 1.25 Mbit/s to 96 Mbit/s.
  • The PHY 3 is used for many emissions sources with a particular modulation method called color shift keying (CSK). PHY III can deliver rates from 12 Mbit/s to 96 Mbit/s.[41]

The modulation formats recognized for PHY I and PHY II are on-off keying (OOK) and variable pulse-position modulation (VPPM). The Manchester coding used for the PHY I and PHY II layers includes the clock inside the transmitted data by representing a logic 0 with an OOK symbol "01" and a logic 1 with an OOK symbol "10", all with a DC component. The DC component avoids light extinction in case of an extended run of logic 0's.[citation needed]

The first VLC smartphone prototype was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from January 7–10 in 2014. The phone uses SunPartner's Wysips CONNECT, a technique that converts light waves into usable energy, making the phone capable of receiving and decoding signals without drawing on its battery.[42][43] A clear thin layer of crystal glass can be added to small screens like watches and smartphones that make them solar powered. Smartphones could gain 15% more battery life during a typical day. The first smartphones using this technology should arrive in 2015. This screen can also receive VLC signals as well as the smartphone camera.[44] The cost of these screens per smartphone is between $2 and $3, much cheaper than most new technology.[45]

Signify lighting company (formerly Philips Lighting) has developed a VLC system for shoppers at stores. They have to download an app on their smartphone and then their smartphone works with the LEDs in the store. The LEDs can pinpoint where they are located in the store and give them corresponding coupons and information based on which aisle they are on and what they are looking at.[46]


With the short wave radiation as used by Li-Fi, the communications cannot penetrate through walls and doors. This makes it more secure and makes it easier to control access to a network.[47] As long as transparent materials like windows are covered, access to a Li-Fi channel is limited to devices inside the room.[48]

Home and building automationEdit

Many experts foresee a movement towards Li-Fi in homes because it has the potential for faster speeds and its security benefits with how the technology works. Because the light sends the data, the network can be contained in a single physical room or building reducing the possibility of a remote network attack. Though this has more implications in enterprise and other sectors, home usage may be pushed forward with the rise of home automation that requires large volumes of data to be transferred through the local network.[49]

Underwater applicationEdit

Most remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) are controlled by wired connections. The length of their cabling places a hard limit on their operational range, and other potential factors such as the cable's weight and fragility may be restrictive. Since light can travel through water, Li-Fi based communications could offer much greater mobility.[50][unreliable source] Li-Fi's utility is limited by the distance light can penetrate water. Significant amounts of light do not penetrate further than 200 meters. Past 1000 meters, no light penetrates.[51]


Efficient communication of data is possible in airborne environments such as a commercial passenger aircraft utilizing Li-Fi. Using this light-based data transmission will not interfere with equipment on the aircraft that relies on radio waves such as its radar.[52]


Increasingly, medical facilities are using remote examinations and even procedures. Li-Fi systems could offer a better system to transmit low latency, high volume data across networks.[citation needed] Besides providing a higher speed, light waves also have reduced effects on medical instruments. An example of this would be the possibility of wireless devices being used in MRIs similar radio sensitive procedures.[52] Another application of LiFi in hospitals is localisation of assets and personnel.[53]


Vehicles could communicate with one another via front and back lights to increase road safety. Street lights and traffic signals could also provide information about current road situations.[54]

Industrial automationEdit

Anywhere in industrial areas data has to be transmitted, Li-Fi is capable of replacing slip rings, sliding contacts, and short cables, such as Industrial Ethernet. Due to the real-time of Li-Fi (which is often required for automation processes), it is also an alternative to common industrial Wireless LAN standards. Fraunhofer IPMS, a research organization in Germany states that they have developed a component which is very appropriate for industrial applications with time-sensitive data transmission.[55]


Street lamps can be used to display advertisements for nearby businesses or attractions on cellular devices as an individual passes through. A customer walking into a store and passing through the store's front lights can show current sales and promotions on the customer's cellular device.[56]


In warehousing, indoor positioning and navigation is a crucial element. 3D positioning helps robots to get a more detailed and realistic visual experience. Visible light from LED bulbs is used to send messages to the robots and other receivers and hence can be used to calculate the positioning of the objects.[57]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Harald Haas. "Harald Haas: Wireless data from every light bulb". Archived from the original on 8 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Comprehensive Summary of Modulation Techniques for LiFi | LiFi Research". Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  3. ^ Tsonev, Dobroslav; Videv, Stefan; Haas, Harald (18 December 2013). "Light fidelity (Li-Fi): towards all-optical networking". Proc. SPIE. Broadband Access Communication Technologies VIII. Broadband Access Communication Technologies VIII. 9007 (2): 900702. Bibcode:2013SPIE.9007E..02T. CiteSeerX doi:10.1117/12.2044649. S2CID 1576474.
  4. ^ Sherman, Joshua (30 October 2013). "How LED Light Bulbs could replace Wi-Fi". Digital Trends. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Global Visible Light Communication (VLC)/Li-Fi Technology Market worth $6,138.02 Million by 2018". MarketsandMarkets. 10 January 2013. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b Coetzee, Jacques (13 January 2013). "LiFi beats Wi-Fi with 1Gb wireless speeds over pulsing LEDs". Gearburn. Archived from the original on 5 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b Condliffe, Jamie (28 July 2011). "Will Li-Fi be the new Wi-Fi?". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 31 May 2015.
  8. ^ a b Li-Fi – Internet at the Speed of Light, by Ian Lim, the gadgeteer, dated 29 August 2011 Archived 1 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b "Visible-light communication: Tripping the light fantastic: A fast and cheap optical version of Wi-Fi is coming". The Economist. 28 January 2012. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  10. ^ "The internet on beams of LED light". The Science Show. 7 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 July 2017.
  11. ^ "PureLiFi aims at combating cyber crime". Ads Advance. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Li-Fi: A green avatar of Wi-Fi". Livemint. 9 January 2016. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  13. ^ "The Future's Bright - The Future's Li-Fi". The Caledonian Mercury. 29 November 2013. Archived from the original on 4 November 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  14. ^ Haas, Harald (19 April 2013). "High-speed wireless networking using visible light". SPIE Newsroom. doi:10.1117/2.1201304.004773. S2CID 54687970.
  15. ^ "LiFi internet breakthrough: 224Gbps connection broadcast with an LED bulb". 16 February 2015.
  16. ^ Vincent, James (29 October 2013). "Li-Fi revolution: internet connections using light bulbs are 250 times". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  17. ^ "'LiFi is high speed bi-directional networked and mobile communication of data using light. LiFi comprises of multiple light bulbs that form a wireless network, offering a substantially similar user experience to Wi-Fi except using the light spectrum.Li-fi' via LED light bulb data speed breakthrough". BBC News. 28 October 2013. Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  18. ^ "pureLiFi to demonstrate first ever Li-Fi system at Mobile World Congress". Virtual-Strategy Magazine. 19 February 2014. Archived from the original on 3 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  19. ^ Giustiniano, Domenico; Tippenhauer, Nils Ole; Mangold, Stefan. "Low-Complexity Visible Light Networking with LED-to-LED Communication" (PDF). Zurich, Switzerland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ Dietz, Paul; Yerazunis, William; Leigh, Darren (July 2003). "Very Low-Cost Sensing and Communication Using Bidirectional LEDs" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 July 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ "Wireless data from every light bulb". Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  22. ^ Povey, Gordon. "About Visible Light Communications". pureVLC. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  23. ^ Haas, Harald (July 2011). "Wireless data from every light bulb". TED Global. Edinburgh, Scotland. Archived from the original on 8 June 2017.
  24. ^ "pureLiFi Ltd". pureLiFi. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  25. ^ "pureVLC Ltd". Enterprise showcase. University of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  26. ^ Povey, Gordon (19 October 2011). "Li-Fi Consortium is Launched". D-Light Project. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 January 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ Watts, Michael (31 January 2012). "Meet Li-Fi, the LED-based alternative to household Wi-Fi". Wired Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 May 2016.
  29. ^ pureVLC (6 August 2012). "pureVLC Demonstrates Li-Fi Streaming along with Research Supporting World's Fastest Li-Fi Speeds up to 6 Gbit/s". Press release. Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  30. ^ (10 September 2013). "pureVLC Demonstrates Li-Fi Using Reflected Light". Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  31. ^ Thomson, Iain (18 October 2013). "Forget Wi-Fi, boffins get 150Mbps Li-Fi connection from lightbulbs: Many (Chinese) hands make light work". The Register. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  32. ^ Li-Fi internet solution from Russian company attracting foreign clients Archived 22 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Russia and India Report, Russia Beyond the Headlines, 1 July 2014
  33. ^ Vega, Anna (14 July 2014). "Li-fi record data transmission of 10GBps set using LED lights". Engineering and Technology Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  34. ^ a b "Highly Sensitive Photon Counting Receivers for Li-Fi Systems - Lifi Research and Development Centre". Lifi Research and Development Centre. 3 July 2015. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  35. ^ Chitnis, D.; Collins, S. (1 May 2014). "A SPAD-Based Photon Detecting System for Optical Communications". Journal of Lightwave Technology. 32 (10): 2028–2034. Bibcode:2014JLwT...32.2028.. doi:10.1109/JLT.2014.2316972. ISSN 0733-8724.
  36. ^ "Li-Fi passes industrial test with BMW's robotic tools". eeNews Europe. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  37. ^ "BMW hopes for smaller Li-Fi gear on factory floor". LEDs Magazine. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  38. ^ Peakin, Will (28 August 2018). "Kyle Academy first school in world using light to create wireless networks". FutureScot. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  39. ^ "High-speed LiFi will soon be available on Air France flights". Engadget. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  40. ^ Tsonev, D.; Sinanovic, S.; Haas, Harald (15 September 2013). "Complete Modeling of Nonlinear Distortion in OFDM-Based Optical Wireless Communication". Journal of Lightwave Technology. 31 (18): 3064–3076. Bibcode:2013JLwT...31.3064T. doi:10.1109/JLT.2013.2278675. S2CID 532295.
  41. ^ An IEEE Standard for Visible Light Communications Archived 29 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine, dated April 2011. It is superfast modern intelnet technology.
  42. ^ Breton, Johann (20 December 2013). "Li-Fi Smartphone to be Presented at CES 2014". Digital Versus. Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  43. ^ Rigg, Jamie (11 January 2014). "Smartphone concept incorporates LiFi sensor for receiving light-based data". Engadget. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  44. ^ An Internet of Light: Going Online with LEDs and the First Li-Fi Smartphone Archived 11 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Motherboard Beta, Brian Merchant
  45. ^ Van Camp, Jeffrey (19 January 2014). "Wysips Solar Charging Screen Could Eliminate Chargers and Wi-Fi". Digital Trends. Archived from the original on 7 November 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  46. ^ LaMonica, Martin (18 February 2014). "Philips Creates Shopping Assistant with LEDs and Smart Phone". IEEE Spectrum. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017.
  47. ^ "Li-Fi: Lighting the Future of Wireless Networks". Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  48. ^ "Applications of Li-Fi - Lifi Research and Development Centre". Lifi Research and Development Centre. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  49. ^ "LiFi Technology". pureLiFi. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  50. ^ "Li – Fi Technology, Implementations and Applications" (PDF). International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology (IRJET). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 November 2016.
  51. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 January 2017. Retrieved 4 February 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  52. ^ a b Ayara, W. A.; Usikalu, M. R.; Akinyemi, M. L.; Adagunodo, T. A.; Oyeyemi, K. D. (July 2018). "Review on Li-Fi: an advancement in wireless network communication with the application of solar power". IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science. 173 (1): 012016. Bibcode:2018E&ES..173a2016A. doi:10.1088/1755-1315/173/1/012016. ISSN 1755-1315.
  53. ^ "Ellipz LiFi medical - real time indoor positioning (RTLS) with LiFi". Retrieved 24 December 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  54. ^ "Applications of Li-Fi - pureLiFi™". pureLiFi. Archived from the original on 20 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  55. ^ Happich, Julien. "Fraunhofer IPMS pushes Li-Fi to 12.5Gbit/s for industrial use". European Business Press SA. André Rousselot. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  56. ^ Swami, Nitin Vijaykumar; Sirsat, Narayan Balaji; Holambe, Prabhakar Ramesh (2017). Light Fidelity (Li-Fi): In Mobile Communication and Ubiquitous Computing Applications. Springer Singapore. ISBN 978-981-10-2630-0.
  57. ^ "5 Essential Technologies for Inventory Control in a Warehouse Contract | SIPMM Publications". 16 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2022.

External linksEdit