A new technology far greater than Wi-Fi.
What On Earth Is Li-Fi?
Also known as Visible Light Communications (VLC), Li-FI (light-based wireless transmission) is 100 times faster than current Wi-Fi (radio frequency-generated) speeds. Invented in 2011, “Li-Fi transmits data using LED lights, which flicker on and off within nanoseconds, so fast it’s imperceptible to the human eye.”
The first company to implement this technology was Velmenni of Estonia where it has achieved amazing speeds of 224 gigabits per second. Several other companies have jumped on board since then, providing installation kits for early adopters.
There is one significant, but potentially manageable limitation: Li-Fi can’t penetrate walls.
Regardless, It Offers Amazing Advantages–
- VLC/Li-Fi creates far greater data density than Wi-Fi.
- It costs less.
- Existing LED light bulbs can be converted to transmit Li-Fi signals with one microchip.
- It’s more secure than Wi-Fi because hackers don’t have visibility of the light source transmitter.
- While Li-Fi bulbs need to be left on to transmit data, they can be dimmed to the point of invisibility and still work.
- This technology is especially useful where electronic circuitry may interfere with radio frequencies (WiFi).
- More specifically, Li-Fi can help solve privacy/security issues challenges associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). This is because, in the future, LED bulbs will be able to establish secure home networks for devices to safely talk to one other.
At The Same Time, Wi-Fi Is Rapidly Improving With Geni And Internet2
In 2007, the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) was established by the National Science Foundation to help develop technologies to build on and improve Wi-Fi. It created a parallel subdomain to the Internet for scientists to safely and efficiently explore new possibilities.
Since then, GENI has created a network of over 50 sites in more than 30 countries, with upwards of four thousand participants. This has allowed broad-scale testing of many innovations. At the heart of proposed improvements, is a ‘low latency fiber network’ with significant advancements in bandwidth/speed, ‘latency,’ and security.
In Part II of this article, I’ll explore more about the new generation Wi-Fi and the parallel Initiative, Internet 2, including how they already are affecting the ongoing net neutrality debate.
Li-Fi holds great future promise
Wi-Fi’s Amazing Advances
While Li-Fi holds great future promise, continuing improvements in Wi-Fi secure its position as the standard means of Internet transmission.
As explained in last Thursday’s Insights article, scientists have been using GENI (the Global Environment for Network Innovations) along with Internet 2 to safely and productively explore new Wi-Fi advances.
Key Geni-Based Improvements-
- Greater bandwidth has allowed our digital devices to do much more than just a few years ago. It’s not just speed, but improved uniform quality of transmission that is paving the way for increasingly sophisticated, powerful apps that will both simplify (and potentially complicate) our lives.
- Improved (lower) latency provides smoother, more constant transmission of data. Lower latency makes faster speeds possible. Higher latency, by contrast, results in persistent and/or temporary data transmission bottlenecks. Low latency is essential to fast-moving mobile devices–exemplified in the case of the still substandard transmission of patient data in fast-moving ambulances.
- “Open Flow” and Better Internet security. It seems that when one Internet security gap is filled, several others emerge. To enhance security and bandwidth, GENI-based technologies allow segregated Internet channels with different levels of service.Many believe that “Open Flow,” a new SDN (Software Defined Network) open standard, will undermine net neutrality. The concern is that there are no restrictions on who can use this new technology–potentially undermining net neutrality as a fait accompli.
The Benefits Of Open Flow
I, for one, support net neutrality, but believe there are government and private sector networks that require much better security to protect the public. It would be hard to justify failing to implement Open Flow for medical data transmission, Defense Department or energy infrastructure communication.
- Major Medical Advances–GENI-based innovations include the exchange of biometrics data exchange that promise breakthroughs in genomic-based cancer research and the personalization of medicine to help doctors tailor patient care to an individual’s genetic profile and cellular biology. In President Obama’s 2016 budget, $215 million is dedicated to building a personalized medicine infrastructure.
- Much Improved Utilization of Big Data–A necessary component of the exchange of biometrics data is Big Data-based analytics of the genomes of thousands of patients. This will usher in a new age of medicine with the combination of new, powerful analytics with improved Open Source networks.
- Military and Infrastructure Defense–Open Source and other technologies promise greater security for military and infrastructure security. I’ll address this issue in a future Insights article.
In my next and final post in this series, I’ll discuss Internet2 breakthroughs.
Internet2 connects over 60K educational, research, industry, government and health care organizations
While Li-Fi promises enhanced speed and security within internal (under the same roof) networks, Wi-Fi is also advancing rapidly in the areas of bandwidth, low latency (enhanced speed) and security. Breakthroughs generated by GENI-based research and tech innovations are behind many Wi-Fi improvements.
Internet2 is the other major driver for Wi-Fi advances. Launched in 2007, this not-for-profit consortium connects over 60K educational, research, industry, government and health care organizations. It is catalyzing the development of high-performance, broad-bandwidth optical fiber circuitry and monitoring tools. So far, these technologies are pre-market, but many of them will be ready for launch in the not-distant future.
Working parallel with GENI, Internet2 research is helping advance network advances for areas like genomic research, health care delivery and remote learning. Emerging breakthroughs will also allow decentralized, more reliable video streaming.
Some Key Internet2 Advances
- Virtual Laboratories–We’ve already seen global networking advances for scientists collaborating with one another in astronomy and astrophysics. Internet2 is helping accelerate the real time sharing of information to meet overlapping goals in many other scientific areas. In addition, virtual laboratories will are poised to improve the quality of health care as well as the design and manufacturing of complex systems–ranging from aerospace to weather forecasting.
- Health Care–One of the reasons health care is so expensive on a per capita basis in the U.S. is that $750B dollars annually are now lost on unnecessary or poorly delivered services. On a personal note, I’ve opted for doctors within the same hospital-based network because it allows my physicians to gain access to all my health information on the same comprehensive database. This kind of vital information will eventually be accessible across multiple health networks. The advantage? –significantly improved diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, even the best physician can easily miss something critical when you present symptoms they can’t compare with baseline information from other doctors.
- Enhanced Big Data-Based Graphics Will Improve Decision Making— Most professionals aren’t experienced data analysts. The same can be said for most of us. However, when big data is presented graphically in multiple ways it’s much easier to understand, resulting in improved decision-making.
- Virtual Environment Sharing–Higher definition video for teleconferencing has been a big improvement. Future Interent2 breakthroughs will offer still more amazing connectivity with new tools for sharing work objects such as architectural models and multimedia interfaces. Manipulating such objects in ‘virtual rooms’ will increase productivity and further reduce the need for employees to fly off to distant locations for meetings.
- Breakthroughs In Education— Among the goals of Internet2 is building a better educational infrastructure. This will be built on the National Science Foundation’s high-speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS) that currently interconnects U.S. research supercomputer centers. One spin-off of this advanced platform will be distributed learning modules that allow teachers and students to share materials in cyberspace at a pace appropriate for individual students. New generation software, including the Instructional Management System (IMS), will help develop and deliver learning modules as well as track outcomes while taking advantage of improved access to the World Wide Web.
On a final note: Institutions involved in Internet2 and GENI research will continue to use the existing Internet for “ordinary” services such as e-mail and personal Web access.
Our Next Insights Article
Internet security tools have advanced significantly since our last Insights post on this subject. In my next blog, I’ll provide you with an actionable list of new strategies you can apply to protect your intellectual property and client security.