LiFi technology, industry and market trend analysis

LiFi: Possible changes to new technologies in the field of optical wireless communications

According to Mamms Consulting, LiFi technology is an optical wireless communication (OWC) technology proposed by German physicist Harald Haas in 2011. LiFi is capable of transmitting information at very high speeds using the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Thanks to the development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the value of LiFi has been highly valued today, and LEDs have become high-frequency semiconductor light sources capable of transmitting information at high speed. The LED achieves such high speed communication with a high frequency modulated signal that is invisible to the human eye.


With the rapid development of solid-state lighting (SSL) technology in recent years, LEDs are now commonly used in luminaires and many other lighting devices and are considered potential data providers for LiFi systems.

Compared to other OWC technologies, LiFi has the following advantages:

Speed: High-speed data transmission has been achieved in multiple demonstrations, and LiFi speed can sometimes be 10 to 100 times faster than Wi-Fi;

Safety: Visible beam and intensity can be easily controlled using existing technology;

Energy saving: the transmission energy of communication is carried by visible light, and visible light can be used for lighting applications at the same time;

Density: The wireless transmission capacity can be greatly improved by appropriate modulation solutions;

Security: Optical communication is a powerful potential alternative to radio communications that may be harmful to humans;

High bandwidth: The visible spectrum represents a large bandwidth and can be used free of charge without permission.

Low cost: LiFi systems require fewer components than radio technology.

Many applications can benefit from LiFi technology: avionics, underwater data communications, healthcare, automotive and transportation, and education.

Essentially, LiFi can help solve specific problems in many applications: for example, by using fiber optics instead of copper cables to reduce the weight of the aircraft or eliminate the risk of electromagnetic interference in the hospital. More broadly, LiFi can also provide additional bandwidth capacity for the communication network (when technology is achievable).


Additional value and key applications of LiFi

Communication standards: the key to unlocking the growth potential of LiFi

The LiFi system is a complex communication system that integrates many different components/functions and software:

- LED for illumination

- Light sensor

- Power management

- Modulation coding and demodulation decoding system

- Network Management Embedded Software

In order to achieve two-way communication, the relevant components must be integrated into two systems. For example, an LED light is paired with a terminal, ie a computer or smartphone. Although the downlink data can be carried by visible light, it is almost impossible to use white light for the uplink data, and therefore, in order to prevent glare, infrared (IR) light is preferable.

In this context, technology/system integration will be the key to LiFi development, but it is important to understand that component/function selection (such as LiFi system design) also plays an important role in LiFi system performance. Typically, at the illumination level, a single color LED can achieve a data rate that is 10 times higher than a white LED. Moreover, when modulated at a high frequency, white LEDs may exhibit chromatic distortion due to variations in balance between the blue light source and the emitted photons from the phosphor conversion material.

In terms of industry, the focus is on integrators and their willingness to bet on LiFi technology. In fact, the clear attitude of the carrier industry (ie telecommunications, mobile devices, lighting) is critical to the use of LiFi technology to manufacture specific products.

Despite these technical and industry challenges, the main obstacle to the development of the LiFi market is still at the standard level. In fact, like most communication systems, LiFi requires an open communication standard to promote the development of a sustainable ecosystem. This is a key driver of the huge growth potential of LiFi. To this end, the industry is expected to release a special LiFi standard called IEEE in 2021.


LiFi Industry Ecosystem

May reach a market opportunity of $1.1 billion in 2023?

LiFi is a powerful potential technology with key advantages associated with many different industry trends. However, we also see two major challenges that may hinder the rapid development of technology in the short to medium term: one is standardization, and the other is the development of products and services that integrate LiFi, such as mobile devices from large OEMs such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

In this context, Yole envisions two market development prospects:

- 'Bear City', LiFi is only a supplementary communication technology for niche applications

- 'Bulbus', LiFi becomes a communication technology for important use cases

At present, the LiFi industry is still in its infancy, and our best expectation is that the industry will achieve significant growth in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate of 53% from 2021 to 2023. Industry, hospitality, healthcare, retail, office, education and residential sectors will account for 80% of the expected sales in 2023.

The integration of technology and the expansion of the market will help reduce costs/prices significantly, further driving the market to grow to $2.7 billion in 2028.

LiFi technology, industry and market trend analysis

Forecast of LiFi Market Revenue in 2018~2028

Source: Micro Fan