Evolution of WiFi

Ted Rapport, IEEE Fellow, Founding Director of NYU WIRELESS in a Q&A shares his views on the Evolution of WiFi, how has it changed since its invention, current applications of WiFi and IoT, whether or not WiFi will face a competition threat from LiFi and other interesting details.



Q. What will we miss if there is a transition from Wifi to LiFi technology; taking into fact that undeniably we will switch? Will IoT devices get a provision to upgrade themselves with this transition or will they find their place in the trash can?

Lifi will take a while to emerge and will never be a ubiquitous solution, since it can't solve two fundamental problems. Firstly, light cannot get through solid objects like doors or furniture or clothing. A wireless device in your pocket or purse cannot receive light. Secondly, sunlight will always override the system just like satellites are knocked out by the sun twice a year.

Q. How has Wifi changed since it first was invented? What technical/industrial changes had it gone through?

There has been amazing growth since the world’s first wifi 26 years ago. Data rates Gabe increased from 1 megabit/second to several Gigabits per second (5000 x faster) and has gone from the factory floor into every smart phone.

Q. Tell us about some interesting current applications of Wifi and Internet of things, like driving a car.

Networks in busses and trains, "cellular to wifi" networks for enterprise and vehicles, monitoring of vending machines and wireless printers, and early IoT applications

Q. What would be the things you would like to warn internet users about, with respect to evolution of hackers and viruses along with that of wifi? Will this be a threat to Internet of things based devices/ house-hold appliances also?

2026: Wifi will be so much a part of our fabric like pen and paper are today. All entertainment and control of devices and appliances will be over wireless.  No cords to connect speakers to your stereo or printers to your computer -- all will be wireless and invisible.

Q. Please tell us how LiFi can be a tough contender to Wifi. Will Wifi sink into oblivion in few years?

No, wifi will not sink into oblivion. There will be a clear line of sight or light scattering applications for lifi but will be niche for a decade or more, just like wifi was niche in factories for the 1980s- 1990s

Q. 5G technology is around now. How can this become a contender to Wifi technically?

5g cellular and wifi will merge as the demand for data skyrockets at over 50% a year and networks will need both.

Q. Wifi In space is the next frontier. How can this be accomplished? Interestingly, can we take IoT devices to space?

Wifi always works in space. The space station has had wifi for many many years - I worked with NASA on space station wifi in 2007-08.

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