Categorized | Concept, Weird

Lightbulbs May Replace Wi-Fi Connections

Wi-Fi LEDEngineers at Boston University are developing the next generation of wireless communications technology — LED lights. Information will be transmitted through visible light rather than radio waves. This “Smart Lighting” will use low power light emitting diodes, or LEDs, to deliver faster, more secure data communications wirelessly.

Essentialy, these LED lights would become the equivalent of a Wi-Fi access point.

BU Engineering Professor Thomas Little commented: “Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires. This could be done with an LED-based communications network that also provides light – all over existing power lines with low power consumption, high reliability and no electromagnetic interference. Ultimately, the system is expected to be applicable from existing illumination devices, like swapping light bulbs for LEDs.”

With properly placed LED lighting, a wireless device in sight of the data-filled light would have access to the internet and network. Initial speeds of 1 to 10 megabit per second is expected. Furthermore, because light is unable to travel through solid walls, the data is less prone to “eavesdropping.” Less energy is also consumed by this method as opposed to traditional radio wave technology.

The core of this novel idea relies on the flickering of lights so rapid that it is unnoticable to the human eye. The flickering of light in different patterns would mean different signals, enabling data to be transmitted without noticeable change in room lighting.

Professor Little hopes to bring the technology outdoors to automobiles, in which brake lights of vehicles in front of a driver can be detected and warns the rear vehicle’s driver instanteously or even actively assisting in the braking.

This story was posted by - who has 23 articles published on FutureNerd. Billy is an internet entrepreneur who enjoys composing music and following bizarre and cool technologies.

13 Comments For This Post

  1. David Says:

    My personal opinion is that this technology will probably never see it’s ‘light’ within my lifetime. Interesting concept, but doubt it will make it.

  2. Brett Says:

    Great idea. But wouldn’t you need to tie a different network into all of the lights? Data communication relies on a much higher frequency than power lines (60Hz I believe). 60Hz is just barely fast enough to provide a light source that doesn’t flicker if its on every other Hz. So, you would need possibly an interface behind the LED and both a power line and maybe a telephone or ethernet cable to transmit the data. Also, directional flow of power in power lines wouldn’t nessecarily allow the data to go anywhere it wanted even if you were able to put the signal over traditional power lines. Every building with this enabled would need all power, or all “data-power” to go through a switch and router in order for it to access the internet. Also, if you wanted to swap incandescent or fluorescent bulbs for LEDs, you would need a different housing since LEDs take no where near 120V or the thousands it can take to strike a fluorescent. None of these problems are insurmountable, but it wouldn’t be as easy as simply swapping LED bulbs for current ones.

  3. Toz Says:

    Please don’t switch the light off, I have to send an email !

  4. Scarleth Says:

    This will not take, simply because of the “because light is unable to travel through solid walls, the data is less prone to “eavesdropping.”” Light is also unable to travel through any object, so this would be very sensitive to “Line of Sight” issues. It may sound great on paper, but doesn’t quite stand up in reality.

  5. meh Says:

    i dont like bright lights when im looking at computers and tvs and stuff i didnt think many people did, i thought thats why we watched movies in the dark. cant we just use optical cables instead of a freaking lightbulb.
    on one hand its efficient as a multitasker. send me my internets and light my howse.
    thats respectable, but what if i want to type on my laptop from my bed (like i am now) but not turn the light on because that would disturb whomever would be sleeping in the same room.
    what if i wanted to hook said laptop up to the tv in the other room, would i need another light for that? and what if i didnt want the light on while i watched the movie.
    what if someone stood in my light?
    what if i wanted to internets outside where the sunshines would interfere with my signal?
    for that matter what about windows?
    what about all that extra effort it would take to make your house light-fi accessible youd have to run different wires all over the inside of your walls.
    and you wouldn’t be able to get it in most older apartments

    as for that car thing, interesting idea, but i think a better option would be for the cars to send signals the old fashioned wifi way. wouldnt a car painted red interfere with the signal?

    so in conclusion, we already have optical cables sending out the internets, we just haven’t implemented it yet, we should work on spreading the optical love before we have to flip a switch.

    and as for you that dont want all those messy wires…. stick to wifi

  6. bradstor Says:

    I’d be a bit worried if my car was partially under control of another driver. Even if it is just to help braking, I still want to be in full control of my car.

  7. S Says:

    What about Epilepsy?

  8. JTB Says:

    So what happens when a moth is attracted to the light? Or someone walks past and casts a shadow on the sensor? Surely it’ll lose connection? That would get annoying quickly. I presume the people designing it have thought of this, be interesting to see their ideas to solve the problems.

  9. Andrew Says:

    This is not a good idea. I’ve just educated myself to turn off lights when it’s day time so as to save power and there by reduce CO2 emissions (save the planet). If this idea gets to become reality, then every one will have all lights on forever!

    Forget it.

  10. Zac Says:

    I like this idea used in minimal quantities. You can use a specially designed desktop lamp for smaller devices, and as for doing stuff in the dark, they can always make infrared LEDs. I think the real hard part would be getting your devices to talk back to your ISP to tell it what it wants. IE your computer ‘sends’ a packet of data to your isp asking for what it wants, files and their locations. You’d have to have the same thing on your computer that reads the LED signals on the LED light. It seems impractical due to the number of frequencies you would need if you had too many devices, but something small would be good for desktop lighting and as you said, prevent eavesdropping.

  11. Online Says:

    ??????? ?????? ??????? – ???? ? ?????? ???????? :(

  12. Cierra Says:

    I just wanted to say that I love this site

  13. Buffy Fuston Says:


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