The Next Great Office Design Challenge?

The Next Great Office Design Challenge? on

Li-Fi is on the horizon – and it looks bright!

A key ingredient to today’s design principles is to be adaptable. We live in an age when concepts, strategies, and personnel are constantly changing and evolving. To help keep costs down and to keep businesses running smoothly, it’s imperative that design must be flexible enough to meet future needs.

That’s why all eyes are on Li-Fi, or Light Fidelity, a form of Wi-Fi in which information is embedded within the visible light spectrum. The idea is kind of a big deal and a perfect example of adaptability.

Let there be light and data

In 2011, Harald Haas, of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, had a bright idea – to embed data in the flickering light from a single LED bulb. The light-emitting diodes (LEDs) used in the light bulbs are semiconductor devices. According to Electronic Design, the electric current that produces light can be switched at an extremely fast speed that’s imperceptible to the human eye. Within the flickering light, parallel data streams are encoded – a digital Morse code, if you will.

When Haas demonstrated the process, he was able to transmit more data than a cell tower.

Since that moment, tech start-ups, like PureLifi and Oledcomm, have been developing fixtures and uses for the technology, which some estimate can transmit data 100 times faster than traditional Wi-Fi.

After a series of small-scale trials, it was announced last year that Li-Fi would be on full display at the Paris headquarters of Sogeprom, the property division of the French Bank Societe Generale.

Making light of the new technology

Rather than having to reinstall wiring and technology equipment in the building, small microchips were attached to every illumination device. In addition, a special dongle was inserted into all computers and other devices to receive Li-Fi.

These dongles also come equipped with an infrared transmitter, thereby creating a bi-directional system. In other words, data could be downloaded and uploaded seamlessly.

Consider this scenario: An employee is on a video conference call while walking through various parts of an office. With Wi-Fi, the signal can sometimes become lost or frozen as a result of walls, a weak signal, or if the employee walks out of range.

With Li-Fi, the transmission of data is smoother. As the employee walks, each LED high hat is transmitting data with each of the employee’s steps.

Other benefits of Li-Fi

Seamless data transmission and speed only scratch the surface of the Li-Fi excitement:

  • Security: Because light can’t travel through walls, the network is more secure. The building structure is, in a sense, its own firewall. Additionally, there’s less interference between devices.
  • Mobility: Because of the system’s efficiency, it’s possible to locate employees within centimeters of accuracy. This comes in handy when arranging team meetings or locating personnel during an emergency.
  • M2M Communication: Using light as a means of data transmission could be a tremendous support for the Internet of Things.

More bright ideas from Compass

Compass Office Solutions is excited by Li-Fi and all innovations that bring workspaces to life. If you’d like to prepare your office for the future, contact our design team at 954.430.4590 or complete our online form.