The LED has come a long way since it illuminated all our simple on/off switches. Now LEDs power everything from printheads in wide format printers to a wide range of illuminated signs including backlit halo signs that create such a visual impact. But the next iteration of the LED is on its way – say hello to Li-Fi.
What is Li-Fi?
Li-Fi or Light Fidelity is a way of running visible light communications (VLC) at exceptionally high speeds, using common household LEDs to achieve data transfer speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second. Professor Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh coined the term in a TED talk he gave in 2011, where he foresaw that the ability of LEDs to flash on and off instantly could act like a kind of wireless router using visible light.
By attaching a microchip to an LED and harnessing the power of binary, Professor Haas claims that we’ll be able to download an HD movie in just a few seconds. Because of the multiplicity of light sources already available, this technology could open up connectivity in tube carriages. Instead of us sharing limited bandwidth, it will be multiplied out through available lights.
Li-Fi has its limitations – the inability to pass through walls means that connectivity in the home depends on having LEDs in every room. However, for a large conference hall or an outdoor space, this new technology could prove limitless, leaving conventional Wi-Fi in the dust with double the connectivity for a fraction of the power.
Who’s using Li-Fi?
So far, there are two Li-Fi products on the market, a ceiling unit and a desktop unit, both of which provide both light and connectivity. The implications for the Internet of things are obvious, but this is also an interesting space for retail business, allowing savvy shop owners to transmit personalised data to a shopper’s mobile securely, rapidly and remotely. There are already rumours that Apple has plans to integrate LiFi into future iPhones.
Updating Piccadilly Circus
The iconic billboards at Piccadilly Circus were switched off in January and will remain dark for the longest single period since WWII. Illuminated lettering has been a feature of the Circus since the 1890s, with the first ever illuminated sign – advertising the French brand Perrier – erected in 1908. Since then, the billboards have always moved with the times, embracing the new technology of neon and then projectors in the 1990s.
Since the WWII blackout, the lights have only gone dark for the deaths of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, and the patchwork of screens have become a huge tourist attraction. The patchwork effect will remain, but the separate screens will be replaced by one massive state of the art screen, retaining the curved shape and with the capacity to be taken over by one company for short term promotions.
At 790 square metres, it’s the biggest screen of its kind in Europe and will reopen in the autumn. The new screen will also feature live streaming, social media integration and the capacity to personalise messages to respond to particular car brands or tourists’ cultures, adapting the language or advertising that appears. However, as Professor Haas argues, it could all be so much faster if the new screen was equipped with LiFi.
Using LEDs for advertising
Your business may not be in the market for screens and LiFi, but illuminated signs never go out of fashion, as Piccadilly Circus proves. In a visual landscape that’s crowded with competing signs, it’s the illuminated kind that catches our eye. LED has proved a popular alternative to neon, thanks to its relative stability and ultra low running costs. With a lifespan of anywhere up to 10 years, LEDs are the salesman that never sleeps, and LEDs are considerably safer than other forms of illuminated signage too, running at a very low temperature.
LED illuminated signs can also scroll through different colours and are easy to install. The overall lifetime cost of ownership makes this type of illumination extremely attractive from an investment perspective. There’s no limit to the kind of signs you can create, thanks to the flexibility of LED cables.
Create and differentiate
A well thought out LED halo sign will help you differentiate your business from the competition, by standing out from the visual clutter. Low cost LEDs can be illuminated 24 hours a day if necessary, meaning you’ll catch passing trade in the early morning and the early evening. If you need advertising that never sleeps, then LED is the savvy choice.
A well-designed LED sign communicates a sense of professionalism to your customers and can provide new touchpoints for engagement on the customer journey. Why be just another business, when a clearly thought out, well designed and well targeted sign can make your business a memorable standout?
Use the professionals
An illuminated sign works best when it’s professionally designed, installed and maintained, creating the optimum return on your investment. At the Sussex Sign Company, we’ll take your ideas and message and translate them into eye-catching signs that create instant impact. With our expertise, we’ll help you get everything right, from the message to the location, to create a bespoke illuminated LED sign that makes your business stand out.
If you’re interested in exploring the difference that a professionally designed and installed sign can make for your organisation, contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you put your name in lights, call us today on 01273 424900 or email us here.