iOS code shows Apple experimenting with ultra fast, light-based Li-Fi wireless data for future iPho

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2016
Recent versions of iOS have been found to contain references to Li-Fi, an experimental high-speed wireless networking protocol that uses pulses of light to transmit data and is being marketed as a long-term replacement for Wi-Fi.




Beginning with iOS 9.1, the operating system's library cache file makes mention of "LiFiCapability" alongside other hardware and software capability declarations. The change was spotted by Twitter user Chase Fromm and independently confirmed by AppleInsider.

Li-Fi works in a way not entirely unlike a traditional infrared remote control. Data is transmitted by rapidly modulating a light source, and received with a light sensor before being reassembled into an electronic signal.

Unlike your television remote, Li-Fi uses visible light and the modulation happens in a manner imperceptible to the human eye: that means the same bulb that lights your hallway can act as a data access point. It's also much faster, with theoretical throughput capacity of up to 224 gigabits per second.



Li-Fi is still in the experimental phase, but a number of companies are working to commercialize the technology. At least one firm, India-based Velmenni, has already begun real-world testing.

In addition to the software references, Apple is known to be working on hardware implementations for light-based wireless data transfer, or optical wireless communication.

A patent application filed in 2013 and assigned to Apple describes a method of "optical modulation using an image sensor." The sensor in question could be switched between image capture and data capture modes, allowing for light capabilities without adding additional hardware.

Apple envisions this particular system being used for indoor location, but the general principle is the same as more high-bandwidth applications.

Thanks to Sebastian for the tip.
hhaas
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,268member
    http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/29/li-fi-probably-wont-be-the-new-wi-fi-for-most-people/

    "While Li-Fi does come with the advantage of not interfering with radio signals, a lot of the benefits are overpowered by the simple fact that visible light cannot travel through walls, an essential factor which gives old-school Wi-Fi a huge advantage. This line-of-sight limitation does make the system more secure and gives better control over emissions, but it’s unclear what the minimum distance for signal reception would be if clear line-of-sight is achieved. With that in mind, it is easy to imagine the signal being intercepted by someone with a telephoto lens and an optical sensor tuned appropriately."

    It may make a nice connectivity option for certain uses and given the right conditions, but wi-fi isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 
    edited January 2016 SpamSandwichcornchipsergiozasdasdMr_Grey
  • Reply 2 of 56
    Li-fi is a bust even before it becomes anything. The line of sight requirement is instant death.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 3 of 56
    Could this be a replacement for Bluetooth? Headphones?
  • Reply 4 of 56
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    I don't see how it wouldn't by asymmetric.  It's fine to have all the ceiling mounted LED bulbs flickering away at high speed but I haven't seen an explanation of how data gets on to a network from the device.
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 5 of 56
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,476member

    It is kind of like Tesla's idea of transmitting power from a very large tesla coil through the air. It also the ideal that Power utilities would transmit data over power lines they were going to provide high speed data to people homes through your power lines until one realize people would screw up and tough I voltage lines. These are all good ideas, until you realize how impractical it is.

    Anyway, neat idea, but I think is will come with lots of lamination yet to be proven out. As it was noted, Light line of sight, radio waves and pass through most anything.

  • Reply 6 of 56
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,141member
    gatorguy said:
    http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/29/li-fi-probably-wont-be-the-new-wi-fi-for-most-people/

    "While Li-Fi does come with the advantage of not interfering with radio signals, a lot of the benefits are overpowered by the simple fact that visible light cannot travel through walls, an essential factor which gives old-school Wi-Fi a huge advantage. This line-of-sight limitation does make the system more secure and gives better control over emissions, but it’s unclear what the minimum distance for signal reception would be if clear line-of-sight is achieved. With that in mind, it is easy to imagine the signal being intercepted by someone with a telephoto lens and an optical sensor tuned appropriately."

    It may make a nice connectivity option for certain uses and given the right conditions, but wi-fi isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 
    I agree, they can both be utilized as when needed.  Just as the iPhone can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular as required.

    Li-Fi is going to be used through.  Of that I am pretty sure, it certainly isn't DOA as some suggest IMHO.
    http://www.sciencealert.com/li-fi-tested-in-the-real-world-for-the-first-time-is-100-times-faster-than-wi-fi
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 7 of 56
    jmncljmncl Posts: 42member
    This article is ridiculous. Just above in that screenshot you can read "LlumeButtonCapability" so in the same way you could say Apple is launching a new button do this amazing thing called Llume! Or not. There's obviously some binary stuff going on in that dump that is replacing the initial letters with a '.L' and so turning *W*iFi into *L*iFi.. But hey I guess such mundane reasons don't sell ad impressions.
  • Reply 8 of 56
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 222member
    How do you think your FIOS works? It's light & it doesn't have to be visible spectrum to work! 
  • Reply 9 of 56
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,261member
    Could be a misspelling. 
  • Reply 10 of 56
    jmncl said:
    This article is ridiculous. Just above in that screenshot you can read "LlumeButtonCapability" so in the same way you could say Apple is launching a new button do this amazing thing called Llume! Or not. There's obviously some binary stuff going on in that dump that is replacing the initial letters with a '.L' and so turning *W*iFi into *L*iFi.. But hey I guess such mundane reasons don't sell ad impressions.

    You clearly have no idea how any of this works. 
    macky the macky
  • Reply 11 of 56
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,261member
    I don't get how they get around line of sight either. And I presume this doesn't go through solid objects. 
    tallest skil
  • Reply 12 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,268member
    sergioz said:
    How do you think your FIOS works? It's light & it doesn't have to be visible spectrum to work! 
    This is not like fiber optics (FiOS)
    http://purelifi.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/How_VLC_works.png
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 13 of 56
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    gatorguy said:
    http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/29/li-fi-probably-wont-be-the-new-wi-fi-for-most-people/

    "While Li-Fi does come with the advantage of not interfering with radio signals, a lot of the benefits are overpowered by the simple fact that visible light cannot travel through walls, an essential factor which gives old-school Wi-Fi a huge advantage. This line-of-sight limitation does make the system more secure and gives better control over emissions, but it’s unclear what the minimum distance for signal reception would be if clear line-of-sight is achieved. With that in mind, it is easy to imagine the signal being intercepted by someone with a telephoto lens and an optical sensor tuned appropriately."

    It may make a nice connectivity option for certain uses and given the right conditions, but wi-fi isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 
    Of course not, ideal would be a seemless handoff between the various means of communications (if you so choose), say LTE --- WIFI --- LiFI.

    Intercepting doesn't matter when it's encrypted end to end, you can also "intercept" wifi, but who cares really.

    Only thing that would matter would be spoofing, but if that occurs inside your own house the "bad guys" (or spying "good guys) probably put cameras and bugs there anyway, so your already in trouble so it wouldn't matter...

    People could set up a LIFI box in the rooms they're in most times (say living room) and use that to get greater throughput that away unburdening the WIFI elsewhere and thus increasing throughput for other WIFI users.
  • Reply 14 of 56
    jmncljmncl Posts: 42member
    jmncl said:
    This article is ridiculous. Just above in that screenshot you can read "LlumeButtonCapability" so in the same way you could say Apple is launching a new button do this amazing thing called Llume! Or not. There's obviously some binary stuff going on in that dump that is replacing the initial letters with a '.L' and so turning *W*iFi into *L*iFi.. But hey I guess such mundane reasons don't sell ad impressions.

    You clearly have no idea how any of this works. 
    Well enlighten me then, I could do with some amusement.
  • Reply 15 of 56
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,976member
    Is Apple making Vietnamese soup now? 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 16 of 56
    Li-fi is a bust even before it becomes anything. The line of sight requirement is instant death.
    Not really. You probably already have at least one light bulb in every room, right? That "light bulb" would need to be replaced with one incorporating the Li-Fi ability. Each one of them becomes an "access point" that communicates to a router elsewhere in your home. That communication can occur wirelessly, or over your existing home electrical branch circuits.

    The electronics required to modulate a light source is very inexpensive, especially if the "light bulb" is already an LED, which have finally reached acceptable levels of affordability and color spectrum, and are only likely to become less expensive.

    Line of sight isn't even required inside a room since light reflects from just about every surface in the room. That's the reason you can use many IR remotes without having to point them directly at the device.

    Li-Fi would not probably not work outside, due to the absence of those reflective surfaces.

    In fact this technology is almost essential. The wireless radio spectrum is already way too crowded.

    edited January 2016 nolamacguy
  • Reply 17 of 56
    tenlytenly Posts: 707member
    It's an interesting technology but I agree.  It seems unlikely there will ever be any feasible, practical applications for mobile devices.

    With devices being kept in pockets and purses - or even just in the shadow of your body - it seems like there would be very limited times that an optical signal could be received reliably.  And, as someone else already pointed out - how does the device reply?  My guess is it would have to use traditional RF...

    i like to keep an open mind to all new technologies, but so far my limited imagination can't see ANY practical uses in the mobile space - but if someone else sees a possible real-world application, please share!

    In the non-mobile space, it might be of use to multicast to fixed location devices - like cameras, point of sale terminals, desktop computers, etc - but would it provide enough advantage over wi-fI to warrant implementing?  Maybe as a laser link to connect remote buildings to the central building instead of using microwave links?

    I know I'm reaching....  Line of sight sucks.
  • Reply 18 of 56
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Li-fi is a bust even before it becomes anything. The line of sight requirement is instant death.
    Not if basically it's everywhere in the room (say all lights) and the device can seamlessly change from WIFI to LIFI on the fly (just like it's moving from WIFI to LTE).
    If it comes from multiple direction, line of sight isn't that much of an issue

    There has been a lot of work done in the last few years on hand off between all the communication protocols, some of which may not even be on the same network (LTE to WIFI); being on the same network simplifies things a lot.

     Each light would in a sense be an access point (a mini router); it could always keep a few backups in case one (or many) is hidden (WIFI as first backup, then LTE, then BT).
     
    Also, you don't need to put this everywhere, only in places with high throughput.

    The main issue is backhaul, but the backhaul could be done through a direct light easily (since the source is not moving that would be easier).

    Connecting the 9+ speakers in an atmos setup (plus the 4K TV up on the wall) without any wires would be better with this and with WIFI.
    You could even have 4K screens working together on the side of the room (or the back eventually); that requires a LOT of bandwidth and WIFI is not close to being able to serve all of that.

    An example of where it would be useful, when people are streaming video in say a public space, a subway for example; right now, this will essentially not work too well so they have to limit the max throughput of users. This doesn't remove the need for WIFI, it supplements it.

    As for people talking about line of sight... There could be potentially many point origins, many lights.
    edited January 2016 nolamacguy
  • Reply 19 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,268member
    For evetenly said:
    It's an interesting technology but I agree.  It seems unlikely there will ever be any feasible, practical applications for mobile devices.

    With devices being kept in pockets and purses - or even just in the shadow of your body - it seems like there would be very limited times that an optical signal could be received reliably.  And, as someone else already pointed out - how does the device reply?  My guess is it would have to use traditional RF...

    i like to keep an open mind to all new technologies, but so far my limited imagination can't see ANY practical uses in the mobile space - but if someone else sees a possible real-world application, please share!

    In the non-mobile space, it might be of use to multicast to fixed location devices - like cameras, point of sale terminals, desktop computers, etc - but would it provide enough advantage over wi-fI to warrant implementing?  Maybe as a laser link to connect remote buildings to the central building instead of using microwave links?

    I know I'm reaching....  Line of sight sucks.
    For everything you wanted to know about Li-fi... http://purelifi.co.uk/

    Personally one of the most intriguing and unmentioned potential uses would be for autonomous vehicle-to-vehicle communications. There's a critical need for self-driving cars to be connected to each other when in close proximity and Li-fi might have a place in it. 
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 20 of 56
    jmncljmncl Posts: 42member
    tenly said:
    With devices being kept in pockets and purses - or even just in the shadow of your body - it seems like there would be very limited times that an optical signal could be received reliably.  And, as someone else already pointed out - how does the device reply?  My guess is it would have to use traditional RF...


    LiFi could easily be implemented in headphones since - as you wear them on your head - those will usually have line of sight to the room. The data could then travel to your phone via eg. Lightning port.

    However for the reasons I explained above this particular "find" has nothing to do with Li-Fi. 
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