Optiva Media for MediaLifi

MediaLiFi is a national project where Optiva Media to implement a LiFi based communication system to provide high speed access to quality multimedia content in public transportation.

Consumers want to have total control of their consumption , when and where they want to use that service, with higher demand and expectations on their access to audiovisual content in situations of mobility, such as the frequent daily commutes by train or bus.

Currently, there are no services that can guarantee this entire experience for the user, mainly due to technological limitations like range, speed, and bandwidth, as well as interference with radiofrequency waves from other services in a radio spectrum that is increasingly saturated.

MediaLiFi  is a national project financed by the CDTI where Optiva Media collaborates with the University Carlos III of Madrid to implement a LiFi based communication system to provide high speed access to quality multimedia content in public collective transportation vehicles.

How it works:

The basic operation of a LiFi system is simple. At one end the source device is placed, consisting usually of a LED light whose behaviour as data transmitter is managed by a microcontroller. This microcontroller modulates the light being emitted by the LED, creating light pulses at very high frequencies that are undetectable to the human eye. This enables a dual function: light source and wireless communications link for the transmission of multimedia content.

At the other end of the system, a photodetector receives the transmitted data encapsulated within the light beam and, after the amplification and processing phases, the data are offered to the user device. The system is completed with the ascendant link between the user’s device and the luminaire.

These results open the door to the use of LED lamps already installed on plains, trains, buses and other collective transportation vehicles, to facilitate reading as a means of transporting data, reducing costs of installation and the market’s reluctance towards LiFi assimilation while eliminating the problems caused by the saturation of the spectrum.

Summarizing, the installation of LEDs has no need for novel infrastructures for its implementation reducing deployment costs and environmental impact and increasing the return on investment in terms of energy savings and low maintenance costs.

Benefits and other applications:

In addition to the MediaLiFi use case -accessing high quality contents in mobility scenarios-, the use of LiFi technology brings other future applications. The two main advantages of LiFi over other wireless technologies like radiofrequency (RF) or infrared (IR) are the bigger bandwidth and higher transference rate when establishing dedicated links between each reading-light and the end user located below -theoretically reaching rates in the order of Gbps- 

On the other hand, the major drawback of LiFi is the inability of light to pass through walls. However, this feature could become one of the great advantages as two LiFi systems in different rooms do not interfere with each other. Representing a degree of restricted communication, which can be used to provide security in these systems.

Furthermore, this inability to pass through opaque objects makes LiFi especially useful in electromagnetic-waves-free-environments. Therefore, examples of potential applications are high risk enclosed areas such as Defence facilities (e.g. handling explosives), nuclear power plants, or hospitals (operating rooms, diagnostic radiology and radiotherapy, etc.) Summarizing, LiFi systems can be implemented as intercommunication systems in inaccessible and/or undesirable environments for the current WiFi technology without affecting the habits of professionals, workers, patients and users; avoiding flooding the working environment with radiofrequency signals.

Additionally, LiFi can be combined with WiFi or 4G-5G technology to increase connectivity in areas of poor phone or internet coverage, as well as for disaster management such as tunnels, galleries, mines, etc.

Finally, this combination of LiFi with other wireless communication technologies, and complemented with IoT (Internet of Things), will boost the Smart Cities era by supporting sustainable and safe mobility. Drawing on the millions of street lamps -each of which could act as a free access point- and in conjunction with traffic lights and light panels on the roads, to communicate with vehicles, for intelligent traffic management and accident prevention.

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