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Oct 19, 2013 09:03 AM EDT

Chinese Scientists Develop Light Bulb That Provides Access to Wireless Internet

Lightbulb
(Photo : Flickr) Lightbulb

Shanghai's Fudan University scientists have created an affordable and efficient one-watt light bulb that produces its own Wi-Fi signal. Scientists found that the prototype that uses a technology called Li-Fi, works faster than the average connection in China. The Li-Fi bulb featuring a microchip generates around 150 mbps, 20 times faster than average broadband connection in China.

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Chi Nan, an information technology professor with Shanghai's Fudan University said that four computers placed near the micro chip containing bulb can easily be connected to the internet simultaneously because it uses light frequencies rather than the traditional radio frequencies used for Wi-Fi.

Around 10 sample LiFi kits will be displayed at the China International Industry Fair that will begin Nov. 5 in Shanghai.

Nan said that the current wireless signal transmission equipment is costly and inefficient.

"As for cell phones, millions of base stations have been established around the world to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems," Nan told Xinhuanet. "The energy utilization rate is only 5 percent."

Apart from being affordable and efficient, Li-Fi bulb can be used in unlimited proportions and help prevent hacking of wireless internet signals because light cannot penetrate through walls when compared to radio signals.

This discovery has come at a time when Chinese people are replacing the incandescent bulbs with LED lightbulbs.

"Wherever there is an LED lightbulb, there is an Internet signal," said Nan. "Turn off the light and there is no signal."

However, the prototype is still in experimental stages. The scientists need to make several tests and changes to further develop the product for commercial use. They need to focus on light communication controls, microchip design and manufacturing among several other improvements.

"If the light is blocked, then the signal will be cut off," said Nan.

The term Li-Fi was conceived by Prof Harald Haas, an expert in optical wireless communications at the University of Edinburgh. Li-Fi or 'Light Fidelity' is a type of visible light communication technology that delivers high-definition videos to a computer. The functioning of the technology was demonstrated in 2011 by Haas.

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