Don't look now but there's a new wireless technology about to burst on the scene that may be a real game changer. It's called "Li-Fi" (which stands for "Light Enabled Wi-Fi") and it promises to be 100 times faster than the wi-fi speeds we're used to today.
Li-Fi is based on the initial work of Professor Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh in 2012, and is based on another technology called VLC or visible light communications. VLC uses visible light that's switched on and off faster than the naked eye can detect so it appears to be continuous, all the while transmitting those 1's and 0's that have now become the backbone of our digital society. VLC uses visible light between 400 and 800 terahertz (THz).
This basic VLC technology isn't new, as it's been used to transmit data via fiber optic cables for decades now. What is new is the ability to be able to use commonly found light sources as a means to transmit the same data. It's also very secure since light can't pass between walls.
While the theoretic data transmission limit of Li-Fi has been found to be 224 gigabits per second, the more common speed is now around 1Gbps in trial real-world situations. Most so-called "high speed" networks in the U.S. average around 10Mbps, just as a comparison.
The potential implications for music streaming transmission are enormous. For instance, there'll be no need for data compressed files like MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC or anything else. You'll be able to stream 96kHz/24bit or higher all day long with no problems. The same goes for picture, as 4K and even 8K movies won't tax the bandwidth.
Then there's the fact that you can get a wireless signal wherever there's a light bulb that's connected to the network, which could be just about anywhere.
Li-Fi may be closer to widespread use than you think, as those working on the technology think it will be in the marketplace within 3 years, although full adoption could take a decade. Frankly, it can't come soon enough, in my opinion. There's nothing worse than a low-speed network, as any traveler knows, or being out of range of your network. Hopefully, Li-Fi will come to the rescue.
Find out more about Li-Fi at the U of Edinburgh website and at purelife.com. Watch a live demonstration from Professor Haas and his TED presentation below.