LiFi

With smart glasses manufacturers looking to build on the progress of LiFi technology, could we see a shift in how intelligent devices are powered in the future? 

The recent news that smart glasses and augmented reality company, Vuzix has partnered with Signify – a world leader in lighting – with the aim of reducing latency for Vuzix Smart Glasses via LiFi technology may be a significant indicator as to how AR eyewear of the future works. 

The partnership means that Vuzix Smart Glasses are now compatible with Signify’s Trulifi, which delivers wireless broadband connectivity through infrared and visible light to provide two-way wireless connectivity to IoT devices. Trulifi can be seen as a significant benefit in areas where radio-based connectivity is otherwise poor or limited – like inside factories and buildings. 

Vuzix and Signify will join forces to offer greater connectivity and more potential for smart glasses adoption across more industries than ever before – specifically in the fields of manufacturing, aerospace, hospitality, and digital. Trulifi’s dedicated connection is always on and comes with greater levels of security. Additionally, the speeds offered by Trulifi’s LiFi-based service can range towards 220Mbps. 

Vuzix’s adoption of LiFi connectivity may be the first of many in the smart glasses industry. But what exactly is LiFi and how does it work? Let’s take a deeper look at the connectivity technology that could power the smart glasses of the future: 

Let There be LiFi

To understand the capabilities of LiFi, or Light Fidelity, imagine a world where it’s possible to connect to ultra-fast internet at the touch of a light switch. LiFi behaves as a wireless optical networking technology that utilizes LEDs for data transmission. Put simply, LiFi is essentially a lift-based form of WiFi that uses light instead of radio waves to send information. 

As we’ve already touched on, the way that LiFi reaches devices can be useful – especially in environments where WiFi signals are weak, or in areas that are susceptible to electromagnetic interference – such as in hospitals or in airplanes. 

LiFi works by transmitting wireless internet connections at high speeds. The technology allows LED light bulbs to transmit pulses of light that allows data to travel to and from receivers in a way that’s undetectable to the human eye. 

(Image: LiFi.co)

Once a device’s receiver collects the information being transmitted, it’s capable of interpreting the data in a way that’s similar to deciphering Morse code – only at a significantly faster rate – millions of times per second. The potential transmission speeds for LiFi data can surpass 100Gbps – faster than the fastest known form of WiFi, WiGig. 

Data on a Global Scale

Despite the internet and data seemingly take the form of an omnipresent entity that surrounds us at all times, internet access is only actually available to around 50% of the world’s population today. Where many citizens in the developed world have become accustomed to interconnected IoT devices, there are billions out there that struggle to find access to any coverage. 

However, in a TED Talk dating all the way back to 2011, the University of Edinburgh’s Harald Haas gave a presentation on the potential of LiFi, claiming that the world’s practically infinite supply of LED lights could essentially be adapted to transmit data as well as light. 

Recently, The Binary District Journal noted that the future of the internet could well be found in streetlights. Published in The Next Web, the article highlights how the ease in which LED lights could be adapted to transfer data at speed could have strong ramifications for cloud computing. 

(Image: FastTracks)

LiFi could have a significant impact on connectivity potential in places where WiFi isn’t as accessible – such as airplanes. 

While much has been made of the arrival of 5G and the modern pace of public WiFi networks, LiFi may yet become an intrinsic part of the technology billed by many to supersede the smartphone: the smart glasses. 

Assessing The Bright Future of Smart Glasses

With Apple aiming to delve into the AR market in 2022 with a much-speculated release of its very first AR headset, the future is clearly set to be a bright one for smart glasses. Today, Apple’s iOS platform is built on many AR-based apps that are already supported on devices like iPhones and iPads – enabling the technology to become far more accessible to its target audience. 

Apple’s release will likely face a fight for market dominance with Facebook, which is looking to release its own AR wearable competitor between 2023 and 2025. Following a partnership with Ray-Ban’s parent company Luxottica to develop fashionable integrated glasses, it seems clear that the social media giants are aiming to bide their time in order to create fashionable smart glasses technology that’s similar in appearance to the standard rimmed glasses that can be seen here as well as in traditional online glasses stores. Known internally as Orion, the glasses are set to allow users to take calls and allow users to stream videos between themselves. 

With major players in the tech industry snapping up AR and holography companies in a bid to better refine its smart glasses technology prior to release over the coming years, we may see some varied interpretations regarding the sort of technology users are perceived to be after. While price will likely play a major role in deciding the most popular AR wearables, convenience and usability will dictate the long-term success of the industry. 

The Significance of LiFi Wearables

As we hurtle towards the first release dates for the next generation of AR wearable technology, our attention must turn to how we’re going to keep smart glasses connected. 

LiFi’s limitations when it comes to keeping smart devices connected stems from the fact that the devices themselves need to stay in constant contact with the light sources themselves – a difficult feat to achieve for smartphones that spend a lot of time sitting in pockets or handbags. However, the arrival of AR wearables means that LiFi can finally find a practical purpose outside of its current industrial applications. 

The arrival of LiFi isn’t intended to retire WiFi connections, or mobile data like 5G. Instead, it should complement existing data connectivity and offer an extra, superfast layer in which devices can connect. 

If smart glasses are set to take over the world over the course of the decade, it may well do so with the support of a LiFi infrastructure that’s built for speed.

Dmytro Spilka
Dmytro Spilka

Dmytro is a CEO at Solvid, a creative, long-form content creation agency based in London. Founder of Pridicto. His work has been published in Shopify, IBM, Entrepreneur, BuzzSumo, Campaign Monitor and Tech Radar.

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