In olden times lighthouses communicated with ships using simple lanterns as signaling devices. Now in the digital age, light signals are back – but not in the same way. Recently Casio demoed smartphones that could communicate with each other using light signals that were almost imperceptible to the human eye. And yes, it’s okay to wonder whether it exists if you can’t see it. As it turns out there is a Li-Fi consortium, a nonprofit group that wants to promote “optical wireless technology.” The consortium promises to deliver “ever-faster wireless connectivity,” for devices around the home and office. In the future it could be up to 8,000 times what we consider “high speed.”
For now Li-Fi use is somewhat limited but fans of it believe that it would be easy to incorporate Li-Fi into our world due to the fact that LEDs could be harnessed. And yes, the science is complicated but the gist of it is that the lights in a building can be “trained” to communicate with each other and exchange data, especially as the increasing array of wireless devices require more and more broadband. One problem with lights is that in order to communicate through walls holes may need to be drilled because light doesn’t travel through solid objects. But in the right hands, we could soon have GigaDock for charging our devices, GigaBeam for downloading movies, GigaShower for broadcasting to an entire room or GigaMIMO where light beams connect individual workstations. It would be like connecting everything with a TV remote – or not.