A Long Way Since Paul Revere: Light On = 1, Light Off = 0

Dr. Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh is using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to transmit digital 1s and 0s.  By switching the light on/off very quickly you can transmit data wirelessly.  Done fast enough, the human eye won’t even notice.

This Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology may soon be ready to compete with conventional Wi-Fi.  Dubbed LI-FI, data rates in lab tests have reach 500 Megabytes per second (that’s 4,000,000,000 light changes each second).

Yes, it only works in direct line of sight and doesn’t go through walls. But it sure could free up some Wi-Fi bandwidth and it could be used in aircraft, integrated into medical devices and hospitals where Wi-Fi is banned, or even underwater, where Wi-Fi doesn’t work at all.

Sounds like a terrific invention in that it exploits an infrastructure this world already has in place… ubiquitous light bulb sockets.