Chinese Scientists Invent Lightbulbs That Emit Wi-Fi

Illustration for article titled Chinese Scientists Invent Lightbulbs That Emit Wi-Fi

A group of Chinese scientists at Shanghai's Fudan University have a bright idea: A lightbulb that produces its own Wi-Fi signal. According to Xinhua, the technology is called Li-Fi, and the prototype actually works better than the average connection in China.

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As many as four computers placed near a Li-Fi bulb can connect to the net, using light frequencies rather than the usual radio waves. The bulb is embedded with a microchip that produces a signal, yielding rates as fast as 150 mbps—far faster than typical connection speeds in China, and about three times faster than the speed I'm getting right now. (Seriously, I just did a speed test.)

One of the perks of Li-Fi is that it's affordable. Have a lightbulb and a Li-Fi kit? Boom—you have internet. Next month, researchers are showing off 10 sample kits at a trade show in China, and the country is moving in a direction that could make Li-Fi a practical and commercially viable asset—especially since, as Xinhua reports, Chinese people are quickly replacing old fashioned incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

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Of course, there are still a few technical details—mostly dealing with microchip design and manufacturing—that would need to fall into place before Li-Fi becomes ubiquitous. So for now, Li-Fi remains an experiment with a bright future. [Xinhua via ZDNET]

Image credit: Shutterstock/Peshkova

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DISCUSSION

So maybe I'm missing something. The bulb produces "li-fi" so its acting like a wireless router. How is the bulb connected to the outside world? Wouldn't it rely on the same slow connections? So the 150 is really only for transfer between the devices connected to that li-fi signal? "Have a lightbulb and a Li-Fi kit? Boom—you have internet." is there some uber connection the kit gives you?