Lifi: the next generation of wireless communication
We all use Wifi in our everyday life. When we don't have it, we growl and yowl. When we have to use a good old RJ45 network cable, we feel like a dog on a leash.
Yet, Wifi has some drawbacks:
- It uses microwaves at low intensity.
- We don't know their effect on living tissues on the long term.
- Microwaves can generate perturbations to medical devices.
- It is often not secure or we have to assume it is not.
- Its bandwidth decreases dramatically with the distance from the antenna.
For all of these reasons, Wifi is not very well accepted in healthcare centers.
Lifi, the wireless communication based on infrared light is perhaps the solution:
- It uses infrared light at very low intensity, proved to be harmless.
- It is directional and doesn't cross the walls. Thus it increases the level of security.
- It doesn't generate perturbations to most of medical devices, except those which use infrared, like neuro navigation tools.
- Its bandwidth is very large (thank to light wavelength).
As of today, I don't know whether Lifi is going to make it or not. Wifi is so well installed and practical that it is not going to be changed to something less versatile for the public.
But for medical solutions where information security and patient safety are at stakes, Lifi could be a good alternative. Ten years ago, I was skeptical about Wifi microwaves, it becomes an essential tool. I could be skeptical about optical transmission as well. There are drawbacks, mainly the interruption of signal by any opaque object. But perhaps this obstacle will be overcome by ingenious IT infrastructure.
Health care centers lack a way to transmit information without using RF or microwaves. Lifi may be an alternative.
See this article on a french blog about Lifi with images and video in english.