Light Fidelity could be the next big indoor networking technology...
Let there be light — Light Fidelity, that is — also known as li-fi indoor wireless networks that initially could support home office chores and high-speed Internet access via high-powered LEDs, photodetectors and microcontrollers.
Promoters of the technology assert commercial and industrial applications could follow as implementation costs decline.
Li-FI is forecast to shine brightly over the next decade, growing at a 50-percent compound annual growth rate, according to Global Market Insights. The Li-Fi market topped $70 million last year, driven by smartphone connectivity and steadily growing data consumption.
If those trends continue, the market tracker predicts the global Li-Fi market will exceed $8 by 2030.
The photonic technology’s ability to transfer large data volumes with little interference using existing radio frequencies accounts for the bullish forecast. However, the market tracker notes that costly components contribute to steep deployment costs. Moreover, the relatively complex LED-based architecture means home networks aren’t as easy to configure as a router or a Wi-Fi signal booster.
“Market players are focusing on reducing the production cost of Li-Fi components to encourage its commercialization,” the market survey notes. Those players include familiar names like Fujitsu, General Electric and Panasonic as well as appropriately branded newcomers like Lightbee, LumEfficient Lighting and Oledcomm.
Renesas Electronics and wireless giant Qualcomm Technologies are also in the mix, perhaps lending their chip scaling expertise to the drive to reduce LED and photodetector component costs.
The vibrant LED sector is the key driver, accounting for the lion’s share of Li-Fi sales by 2025, about $600 million. LEDs remain expensive for networking applications, but those costs are offset by low power consumption, high energy output and durability.
“These advantages are contributing to the wide adoption of LEDs in the form of arrays for Li-Fi system infrastructure,” the market tracker said.
Among the potential markets for Li-Fi systems are location-based services used by retailers for interactive shopping. In one scenario, smartphones would connect with Li-Fi networks to direct customers to a specific item. (Retailers invariably collect data on customer shopping habits, often resulting in an avalanche of online pitches for related products.)
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications is another promising use case for Li-Fi networks. V2V links could facilitate data sharing among connected cars, perhaps illuminating the way to greater autonomy in an automotive sector currently stuck in neutral.
Li-Fi has the potential to “further enhance the decision-making ability of autonomous cars,” asserts Global Market Insights. “The growing integration of advanced technologies into modern vehicles will drive the adoption of Li-Fi in the automotive sector.”
As the roster of component vendors grows, Li-Fi technology trials have begun. Mobile telecom operator O2 launched a trial in the U.K with partner PureLiFi in 2018. The trial implemented LiFi-enabled LEDs used for data transmission; adjusting the intensity of the bulb demonstrated “high-speed, bidirectional exchange of data,” the industry analyst reported.
Since then, Li-Fi enabled devices such as transceivers have hit the market delivering transmission speeds up to 150 Mbps.
For now, the home office appears to be a prime candidate for the LED-based networking technology.