iPhone 7 could feature ultra-fast Li-Fi wireless technology, iOS code indicates

By , Jan 19, 2016

Airport Wi-Fi logo medium

You can now put a new kind of ultra-fast wireless networking technology on your list of potential hardware advances that might be in tow for Apple’s ‘iPhone 7’ refresh later this year.

As first spotted by Twitter user Chase Fromm, code strings in iOS indicate that Apple could be experimenting with an ultra-fast, light-based wireless data technology, dubbed Li-Fi.

In modulating visible light in a manner that is imperceptible to the human eye, Li-Fi promises a theoretical throughput capacity of up to 224 gigabits per second versus up to just a few gigabits per second for the current-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.

References to the experimental wireless Li-Fi networking protocol have started to appear in recent builds of iOS beginning with iOS 9.1. It’s interesting that Apple’s patent application, filed back in 2013, outlines a method for “optical modulation using an image sensor” which could capture both images and transmit data.

iOS code Li-Fi

According to International Business Times, Estonian startup Velmenni has already begun real-world testing of Li-Fi technology within offices and industrial environments in Tallinn. Their current implementation of Li-Fi can transmit data at up to 1 gigabit per second, allowing a high-definition film to be downloaded in just a few seconds.

Researchers have achieved speeds of 224 gigabits per second in lab conditions.

And here’s a TED Talks video with professor Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, who invented this technology, in which he demonstrates a device capable of flickering the light from a single LED, a change too quick for the human eye to detect, to transmit far more data than a cellular tower.

Haas said that in the future, every LED lightbulb could be used as an ultra-fast alternative to Wi-Fi, acting as a wireless access point.

“All we need to do is fit a small microchip to every potential illumination device and this would then combine two basic functionalities: illumination and wireless data transmission,” Haas said.

“In the future we will not only have 14 billion light bulbs, we may have 14 billion Li-Fis deployed worldwide for a cleaner, greener and even brighter future.”

In addition to fast data transfer, Li-Fi benefits from less interference between devices. Commercial Li-Fi deployment may become a reality within the next three to four years, potentially allowing people to access the internet using smart light bulbs in their home.

That being said, there really is no no guarantee that Apple will outfit the next iPhone with Li-Fi or embrace the technology before it’s ready for prime time.

Source: Chase Fromm via AppleInsider

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  • White Michael Jackson

    I dont think many people have wireless routers that will take advantage of this.

    • Elias Chao

      But think about the future, Michael.

      • Himanshu Oberoi

        How can he think of the future, when he is of past. XD

    • Gucciipad

      I do. Just upgrade. And so do u. I still have to upgrade more. I need a repeater. Somewhere.

      • Jack Wong

        Not until we have giga-internet service with an affordable price for our home.

        Moreover, I already get to the bottleneck of my NAS hdd speed limit with just AC.

    • Matt

      Well that means Apple will probably update the AirPort Extreme to the 7th generation.

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    I can see the problems people will have with this if it makes it to market. So-called super fast lightning data speeds but it won’t connect to a normal wireless router, or the user might experience spotty connection. Apple’s answer: “the new Wi-Fi to Li-Fi adapter, at $199 only.”

    • Elias Chao

      Even though I find funny the adapter part, I guess it won’t be Li-Fi only. It would support both Wifi and Lifi.

    • Franklin Richards

      That’ll be a kick in the sack if Apple were to do away with 2 industry standards in one single iPhone update.

      • :D

        2G, 3G, 4G

  • James G

    Are there any Li-Fi routers on the market, even? If not, why even increase build cost just to support this? And if there are, I can’t imagine there being anywhere near the market penetration necessary to warrant such an investment. 802.11ac had been on the market a few years before that was put into iPhones.

    • blu

      I agree. Wireless ac was out for well over a year before Apple put it in their iDevices. Wireless n had been in use since 2007, but it was not till the iPhone 4 in 2010 that Apple used it.

      This is an unreleased technology, no need to wast time and money on the iPhone 7 on it. Maybe a 7s, but more likely 8.

      • DirkSwizzler

        I highly doubt they’re pursuing hardware changes at this time to support the technology. But, as stated in the TED video. It could potentially work with the built-in camera and flash LED.

        So, in theory, current hardware already has the capability to test the waters with purely software changes.

        Given that Apple tends to pursue lots of avenues of R&D. I would imagine it’s just a small team working on software using current hardware so that they can interactively explore potential issues and branch out their research ahead of the curve.

  • Elias Chao

    Maybe Apple can help this technology to get the mainstream. No one else have the reflectors Apple have in their keynotes. This would encourage manufacturers to sell more Li-Fi routers.

    Apple would introduce it as something they’ve done though.

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    This would really be Apple messing with us if this is the case.

  • askep3

    Doesn’t it have to have a direct “line of sight” to the phone

    • blu

      Thats what I am wondering. Also does it need to be LED lights? What is the entire infrastructure needed for a home?

      • askep3

        Well led are the only bulbs that can flicker like that, at least without being damaged, like other lights can’t do that

      • blu

        Sorry, I was meaning more do they need to be a specific type of LED.
        How does the signal get from my router to the bulb then from “any” LED bulb or a specific LED bulb to my device.

      • askep3

        Oh, then idk