Imagine having a wireless connection that can travel at the speed of light. This is the promise of new technology being developed called LiFi. It uses LED lights to transmit data using the visible light spectrum. This means you can easily network any part of your house or office where you have lights installed. The technology is still under development with a prototype showing early promise. It is likely to make an impact over the next few years with smart phones and tablets probably being the first to take up the technology.
The popularity of WiFi means that in highly populated areas wireless networks can compete for bandwidth and can get congested. LiFi provides an alternative to wireless technology and so can avoid this congestion. A weakness and strength is that LiFi requires direct light exposure in order to work. This limits the range as the connection won't work through walls, but can also make it more secure if you live in a dense area and don't want your neighbour siphoning off your internet. This technology can also make it easier to connect household devices, such as toasters, fridges even coffee machines, to the internet (also known as the Internet of Things or IoT). While you may wonder about the usefulness of this trend, with the increasingly connected lifestyle we live in, it will become the norm that we can turn on the coffee machine before we get home to have the perfect coffee waiting for us when we arrive. Another potential use for LiFi is in medical areas, such as hospitals and operating theatres, where electromagnetic interference can cause problems with sensitive medical equipment. LiFi could happily co-exist as it doesn't compete with the WiFi spectrum and poses no risk to the operation of other equipment.
So if the adoption of internet connected devices continues as predicted (50 billion by 2020), there will be a great need for this sort of technology, so watch this space.