For the past few days there have been numerous reports that the next iPhone would feature the newly developed Li-Fi, which is the transfer of data using visible spectrum of light instead of radio waves, which the Wi-Fi use.
Li-Fi boasts a bandwidth 10,000 times that of Wi-Fi. The radio spectrum being extremely crowded, Li-Fi is well in need. Li-Fi works by modulating the intensity of light emitted by light sources such as LED lamps in a very indiscrenable way to humans to get the data across. This means that the same device which is used to light up an area can be used to transfer data. During the day, when light is not required, the lamps would light up undetected to the human eye, but still provide the data connection.
Twitter user @kyoufujibaya tweeted an image of the iOS 9.1 library cache showing the words ‘LiFi Capability’.
“Li-Fi testing is already imminent. May appear in the next iPhone 7 according to iOS code in iOS 9.1 firmware.” — A tweet by @kyoufujibaya on 1st January, 2016
This tweet made everybody speculate that the next iPhone would have this feature. But, this is highly unlikely, and would go against Apple’s strategy of introducing new features on their devices until now. I’ll tell you why below.
Li-Fi is a new and upcoming technology that is yet to see a decently wide market. Apple has seldom introduced a technology that is in its infancy.
Having Li-Fi in the next iPhone would be useless in the existing network infrastructure (read Wi-Fi) used by all the iPhone buyers.
Introducing a technology in the new iPhone that would not be usable right away is very unlike Apple. Apple is known to see the trend, understand what features are required by the user, and make those features as simple to use and well-integrated in the devices as possible. That won’t happen in the case of Li-Fi.
Li-Fi does not penetrate through walls, hence, one access point would not be enough for opaquely disjoint spaces.
The installation costs are going to be higher for Li-Fi, at least in its initial stages. And, even though line-of-sight is not necessary, the light reflected off the walls reduce the speed of Li-Fi transfer.
In summary, Li-Fi is still a very new technology, and the fact that is not exactly an improvement over Wi-Fi does not help its case in convincing people to switch over to Li-Fi. I say it is not an improvement over Wi-Fi because, even though it performs very well in terms of speed, bandwidth and security, it lags behind in range and installation costs. These, I believe would be the reasons why the next iPhone would not have Li-Fi.
Though Li-Fi may not be seen immediately at our homes or offices, it may see use in airplane cabins, hospitals and nuclear labs and power plants as it does not cause electromagnetic interference with the largely used radiowave-based communication systems. Li-Fi also boasts security as it is physically isolated to the opaque enclosure around a Li-Fi access point, which is unlike Wi-Fi, where the signals pass through walls.
It would be nice to have the lamps we use everyday to also be our access points to the internet. Moving further ahead and being a bit fictional (refer Person of Interest), the power grid could also be our link to the internet. this could be acheived by having a modulated signal being passed around along with power in our electric lines. This would enable all our devices to get powered and be connected to the network with a single link. This could be one of the ways in which a wholly connected age could come about (read Internet of Things).