LiFi: What it is, How it Works, Benefits, and Applications

What is LiFi?

LiFi (or Li-Fi), which stands for Light Fidelity, is a technology that allows the transmission of data and information through LED light modulation.

Light is a wave, exactly like the electromagnetic waves and the radio frequencies that are normally utilized for transmitting information. Therefore, like a wave, light can become a communication channel and a tool to transmit and receive data when appositely modulated.

LiFi Zone Napoli and Vesuvius
Napoli and Vesuvius – Picture: Gustavo Adrián Salvini – Sfida Studios

How Does LiFi Work?

A LiFi data transmission system is a LED infrastructure that, thanks to the implementation of electronic components between the power supply and the light source, generates binary codes through the beam of light it emits.

In order to generate binary codes and consequently transmit data, light is repeatedly turned off and on very quickly. This intermittence process, which the human eye is not able to detect, can transmit information to the connected devices. Several devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops can elaborate the signal from the light beam and convert it into information.

What is Needed for LiFi Data Transmission?

First of all, regarding the LED infrastructure (concerning the hardware), it is fundamental to identify the illuminated bodies that are better suited for what will be illuminated (for example a painting, a design piece, merch displayed in a store…)

All the newest LED lights (of the last 2-3 years) can be compatible with LiFi technology. From a plant engineering standpoint, this process is no different from setting up regular LED lights. The installed system, in fact, will have the same function and life cycle as a regular LED implant.

All the LED sources are potential information transmitters, and every device is a potential user.

LiFi Computeres Data Transmission

Once the hardware part is set up, it has to become compatible with the Li-Fi technology by developing the software part. There is a dashboard where all the different lamps installed are registered, ad to each of them corresponds to specific contents. These contents can be easily updated, remotely as well, through a designated software.

For example, if an edit is needed, if the exhibition (in case of museum exhibitions) or the product change it will not be necessary to rebuild the LED implant each time: it will be enough to update the contents by working on the software part.

LiFi Benefits

The internet connection through LiFi has several benefits: let us a look at the main ones:

Speed of Transmission

Thanks to LiFi technology it is possible to reach transmission speed comparable to 5G. LiFi, in fact, not only manages to perform as efficiently and quickly, but it is also much more reliable than 5G.

Currently, LiFi speed is about a hundred times superior to the WiFi transmission.

There already are LiFi apps in the market transmitting data at about 10 Gps (Gigabit per second), which is a speed that cannot be reached with other technologies. This is because the LiFi uses light, which has a spectrum 10.000 times wider than the WiFi. This allows for extremely fast connections and a non-saturated bandwidth.

In very crowded spaces, such as festivals and museums, the public WiFi can often stop working or can be extremely slow due to the many devices connected. With LiFi this is not the case: everyone is connected at their own speed as the bandwidth is not saturated.


An important characteristic of LiFi technology is its precise geolocation feature. In fact, LiFi can reach areas in which there is no GPS signal, and it is capable to track the user’s location with extreme accuracy. (the margin error is just 2-3cm).

This feature results in a very accurate user experience. Through LiFi we are able to guide people during the whole user experience, giving them specific information and suggesting to them the best path based on where they are located and what they are looking at.

Data Analysis

Thanks to geolocation, it is possible to access a series of data on the user experience of products or services. We are able to determine which path they took, where exactly they stopped, and for how long. This is possible because the same light-transmitting data about the specific object that the user is looking at receives and elaborates useful information related to it.

In the retail sector, in particular, this data can really make the difference, as they lead the way for what is called marketing of proximity. Therefore, the LiFi technology allows in-depth research of the shopping dynamics in loco, and consequently an analysis of the market positioning of the products. This data can be highly useful for sellers to implement their own marketing strategies.


The responsiveness to energy-saving and electromagnetic pollution reduction make of LiFi a green technology, which is 100% ecological. LiFi, in fact, thanks to the use of LED lamps, guarantees energy-saving.

Moreover, the waves used for data transmission do not cause issues for human health and do not create interferences or conflicts in particular environments (for example in the medical sector where often it is not possible to implement other kinds of technologies due to the interference with other medical devices).


LiFi is a data transmission system that protects the information from potential hacker attacks and data leaks. Cybersecurity is of the highest quality with LiFi, and the reason is very simple: data is transmitted through light, and light cannot pass through the walls. The only way to hack the system is by being physically present in the sites where the light sources are located.

 LiFi and Fields of Application

LiFi Ideas!

The potential of LiFi is endless, as its fields of application are: Only imagination is needed. Let us look at some examples:

LiFi in Museums

Thanks to the light illuminating the exhibitions, it is possible to interactively guide the visitors and provide them with detailed information and additional content such as videos, images, and so on during their tour experience.

LiFi and the Retail Sector

The illumination of a product displayed in a store or of the different sections in shopping malls allows for the transmission of specific information or customized suggestions in loco to the customers. (including particular promotions and offers)

LiFi in the Medical Field

As we have previously said, not only are the waves used for data transmission through LiFi unharmful for human health, but they also do not emit radio frequencies.  This makes LiFi particularly suited for hospitals and other healthcare facilities where it is prohibited to use technologies interfering with medical devices.

Other Sectors

The future development of technology will be related to the signal transmission in the automotive, corporate, and submarine (for which the US Navy is experimenting with several interesting solutions) fields, and to the accessibility of information for people with visive and hearing disabilities (on which many are already working).

 LiFi Prospects: a Look at the Market

To understand the characteristics of the LiFi technology and how the market is evolving, we interviewed Francesco Paolo Russo, Founder, and CEO di To Be – an Italian company focusing on the implementation of “turnkey” LiFi solutions.

How far along are we in the development of the LiFi technology?

The period we are currently living is very significant for the development of the LiFi technology, and consequently for its market, which is progressively becoming more prominent. When we launched To Be, the technological advancement process still had to reach a level at which a massive application could take place.  I am confident to say that it is thanks to our contribution and technical team that LiFi made tremendous progress, up to reaching the high standards of today.”

Could you give us some insights on how the LiFi market will be in the next years?

Market analysts are expecting a significant growth of the LiFi technology in the next years, with exorbitant amounts of several billion. Personally, I am convinced that within a very short span of time the LiFi technology will be accessible to everyone, including in residences. In fact, currently, LiFi solutions still have an elevated cost that would not be suitable for domestic use, but in the next years this is expected to change.”

This shift was also confirmed by several signals from important global players. Do you agree ?

“I would definitely agree. At a global level, in the last months, global players such as Huawei and Dell have begun stating that they are working on the necessary components related to sensor technology that will allow the stream of LiFi data to be directly detected and elaborated by their devices (without the necessity to download additional apps).”

To Be has implemented important LiFi projects. What was the strategy that allowed you to take over the market?

“Differently from other market players, that opted for a more experimental approach, To Be immediately worked on the implementation of solutions that could be inserted into the market. This way, we basically led the way in the market. Even today, the most important LiFi projects at a global level were developed by us.”

What are your objectives and hopes for the short-term future?

“After having implemented the first archeological site and the first ship with a LiFi zone worldwide, we would now like to focus on giving life to the first healthcare facility and the first city equipped with LiFi. In addition, we would really like it if this milestone took place in Italy, our country, as was the case for the ship and the archeological site. In particular, we would like to do so before Dubai, which declared to wanting to become the first LiFi city by 2021. Our hope is that the Italian Public Administration will give us the opportunity to carry out this operation.”

We thank Francesco Paolo Russo, To Be Founder and CEO for supporting Elettricomagazine in the creation of this article.

Published on Elettrico Magazine | June 27th, 2019.