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Let There Be Li-Fi!

Microchip-equipped LED bulbs that can transmit data.

Let There Be Li-Fi!

[Image: Flickr user Mike Deal]

As if underwater Wi-Fi wasn't fascinating enough, here's another wireless technology that could be potentially groundbreaking if and when it goes mass market.

Chi Nan, an information technology professor at Shanghai's Fudan University, and her research team have experimented with using the light from a one-watt LED bulb to transmit data, rather than the radio frequencies that traditional Wi-Fi uses. Naturally, they're calling the technology Li-Fi.

The bulb is equipped with a microchip and can produce data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second, Nan told Xinhua News, faster and cheaper than current Chinese broadband connections. One lightbulb can be used to connect four computers to the Internet.

While the technology is still in its infancy, this is not the first time that researchers have experimented with using LED light to transmit data. In 2011, Harold Haas, an optical wireless communications expert at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated streaming high-definition video to a computer using an LED lightbulb and then set up a private company, PureVLC, to harness the technology.

And earlier this year, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute experimented with using LEDs to transmit data at a blistering 3 gigabits per second.