Researchers turn LED displays into 'Li-Fi' wireless

Scientists from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland have emerged from their smoke filled labs having come up with a Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) technology that could turn ordinary LED computer displays into a sophisticated wireless communications network like wi-fi.

The process is based on German development. German researchers came up with an 800Mbps capable wireless network by using red, blue, green and white LED light bulbs in 2011.

But the University of Strathclyde’s idea uses micron sized LEDs and will mean that an LED array beside a motorway could light the road, displaying the latest traffic updates and transmitting internet information wirelessly to passengers’ laptops, netbooks and smartphones.

Micron-sized LEDs are able to flicker on and off around 1,000 times quicker than the larger LEDs and this means faster data transfers and they also take up less space.

Each micron-sized LED can also act as a tiny pixel which can be used to light a living room. It could also be used as a screen displaying information, at exactly the same time.

It does have some limits. Since light cannot penetrate through most walls it means that the signal is easily blocked by somebody simply walking in front of the LED source. In Scotland that could mean fog and rain shutting down the network.