What if every light bulb in the world could also transmit data? At TEDGlobal, Harald Haas demonstrates, for the first time, a device that could do exactly that. By flickering the light from a single LED, a change too quick for the human eye to detect, he can transmit far more data than a cellular tower — and do it in a way that’s more efficient, secure and widespread.
Who is Harold Haas?
Harald Haas is the pioneer behind a new technology that can communicate as well as illuminate
Wi-Fi networks dependent on radio waves are growing more congested all the time—and can’t be used everywhere—so various researchers and companies are betting light waves from LED lamps and overheads can also stream data and connect people to the internet. So-called Li-Fi technology, which uses a much more abundant slice of the wireless spectrum, is also more energy-efficient than Wi-Fi, though for now people need a special USB drive to use it. Light waves can’t pass through walls like radio waves do, but that also makes the networks more secure. A group from the world’s largest technical association, IEEE, will have draft standards for Li-Fi ready by yearend for companies that want to commercialize the technology, says its chair man, Bob Heile.
1. Setup LEDs outfitted with Li-Fi technology can embed and stream data in the light they emit by modulating the light’s intensity faster than the human eye can detect.
2. Use A USB drive that serves as a receiver and transmitter picks up the signals from the LEDs and uploads data to them from a connected PC or mobile device.