Li-Fi communication and networking researchers at the University of Edinburgh are inspired by quantum mechanics to develop systems to control the number of photons in light emitted from a simple off-the-shelf LED light bulb by changing the frequency of the light, making it the most perfect wireless carrier for wirelessly transmitting Internet data in the smallest cell network among 5G wireless communication networks.

Based on this principle, the LED output power, which determines Li-Fi access node coverage and the values of some Li-Fi physical layer communication parameters, is a programmable feature. Accordingly, depending on the number of covered users and their spatial distribution, a Li-Fi access node can automatically adjust its light frequency and output power, as well as turning on or off any of its non-overlapping light sources.. When the Li-Fi access node does not serve users or receive data from neighbouring nodes, it can automatically hibernate its communication capabilities and return to its basic light bulb operation mode.

Different to lighting control sensors, Li-Fi communication and networking technology has a more granular control on light bulbs connected through a Li-Fi network. It can control which bulb should be on or off and what type of communication, networking, security or any other function, and in which operational mode should be run.

A Li-Fi access node can be enabled to automatically recognise users and allocate them resources based on their profiles and access privileges. This would allow a licensed firefighter agency to turn Li-Fi access nodes installed in a building caught in fire into cooperative cameras network that relays information on real-time to the agency to accelerate efforts in rescuing people stranded in the building.

Smart City Traffic Management
Smart City Traffic Management

Similarly, a Li-Fi access node can also turn into a surveillance camera and automatically analyse suspicious movements under its coverage with the help of a Li-Fi cloud function, and share the analysis with a relevant security agency to react appropriately. This could be also the case in the future for managing traffic congestion and programming traffic routes to realise smart cities.

Making a Li-Fi access node to automatically run functions for other purposes than the light, means that the Li-Fi access node is programmable and hence a whole Li-Fi network is also programmable. Such a Li-Fi network can be programmed to achieve specific tasks, such as guiding the Yamaha home robot to its bed before turning off the light. The network can also track and localise moving objects/persons indoors, outdoors, and from indoors to outdoors.

Easily and comfortably, we can say that the Li-Fi communication and networking technology is a true programmable technology with rich programmable features, and it has the potential to enable great societal, economy and industrial impacts.

Hamada Alshaer

Li-Fi Research Associate