Chinese Scientists develop a light bulb which provides wireless internet
Chinese Scientists develop a light bulb which provides wireless internet (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Scientists at Shanghai's Fudan University have created a one-watt light bulb that provides access to wireless internet.

Using a technology called Li-Fi, or light fidelity, the prototype created by the scientists is claimed to be an affordable and efficient alternative to existing means.

According to Chi Nan, an information technology professor with the university, four computers were found to be able to connect easily to the internet when kept near the Li-Fi bulb.

The use of light frequency enables all computers to connect simultaneously. The Li-Fi bulb, featuring a microchip, generates around 150 mbps that is 20 times faster than the average connection in China. Nan also states that the current wireless signal transmission equipment is expensive and inefficient.

"As for cell phones, millions of base stations have been established around the world to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems," Nan told Xinhuanet.

The new technology will be showcased at the China International Industry Fair beginning on 5 November in Shanghai, where around 10 sample Li-Fi kits will be displayed.

The new bulb is seen as a cost-friendly product that can greatly help in preventing hacking of wireless signals as light cannot penetrate walls when compared to radio signals.

The development comes at a time when the Chinese are replacing incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs.

"Wherever there is an LED light bulb, there is an internet signal," said Nan. "Turn off the light and there is no signal."

The prototype is still at a very nascent stage and it will take several tests and changes before the product is developed for commercial use. The scientists need to focus on light communication controls, microchip design and manufacturing among several other areas, according to experts.

Li-Fi is a type of visible light communication technology that delivers high-definition videos to a computer. The term was conceived by Prof Harald Haas, an expert in optical wireless communications at the University of Edinburgh, who also demonstrated the functioning of the technology in 2011.