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Philips tests LiFi in a real office

LiFi is tech that provides broadband internet through light waves.
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Bloomberg via Getty Images

This week, Philips announced that its LiFi, or Light Fidelity, tech is currently being tested at the offices of Icade, a French real estate investment company. LiFi provides broadband internet through lights, using LEDs to transmit a high-speed connection of up to 30 Mb per second through light waves.

LiFi works through LED luminaires that are equipped with built-in modems. For now, users will need to plug a USB dongle into their computers to access LiFi, but the tech will eventually be built into other devices. The dongle uses an infrared link to access LiFi, which is purported to be more secure and more reliable than WiFi.

There are many real benefits to LiFi. First, it works in areas where WiFi radio frequencies might interfere with equipment, such as hospitals, and where these signals can't penetrate. Because LiFi is transmitted via lights, it can reach areas that are deep underground. Seamless hand-off technology ensures that the signal will remain constant as you move from one light to another. It's also easy to control the range of LiFi; because light can't penetrate walls, creating a short-range, secure signal is easier than with WiFi.

That doesn't mean there won't be challenges to its implementation, though. Because it requires line of sight, implementation in a building without a lot of open space would be challenging and expensive. Additionally, as previously mentioned, computers and devices do not currently have onboard tech to access LiFi. There are certainly still some kinks to work out, but it will be interesting to see how this tech proliferates in the future.

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