A team of researchers at the Fraunhofer Henrich Hertz Institute (HHI) in Germany has developed a Visible Light Communications (VLC) or LiFi system that while using conventional LEDs has successfully transmitted data at 3 Gb/s in a laboratory environment and 500 Mb/s under "less-than-optimal atmospheric conditions" during a trade fair.
For those who haven't come across it before, VLC functions in a similar manner to WiFi except that it oscillates an LED instead of a WiFi transmitter and transmits light instead of microwave radiation.
LiFi holds immense potential, because it can turn virtually any LED lamp into a network connection. Since it operates in the hundreds of terrahertz range, it avoids the "wireless spectrum crunch" and its associated licensing problems. The latter aspect will also allow it to be used in areas where there's extensive RF noise or in locations where RF noise is prohibited, such as hospitals.
As one would expect with any technology, LiFi is not yet commercially viable, as there are no known roadmaps or plans to bring LiFi equipped devices to market. Development seems thus far limited to a handful of research groups and startups. This being said, the technology's versatility and obvious application mean that we're inclined to agree with Extreme Tech's Sebastian Anthony that it is "just a matter of time until LiFi becomes a reality."