Light bulbs could be soon used to broadcast wireless Internet, a leading physicist has claimed.
Harald Hass said he has developed a technology which can broadcast data through the same connection as a normal lamp.
By simply turning on the light in the room you could also switch on your Internet connection, he said in a speech.
Other possibilities of the device – which he has dubbed ‘Li-fi’, or Light Fidelity – include sending wireless data from the ‘white space’ in your television spectrum or unused satellite signals.
Professor Hass, of the school of engineering at Edinburgh University in the UK, said that currently we use radio waves to transmit data which are inefficient.
With mobile phones there are 1.4 million base stations boosting the signal but most of the energy is used to cool it, making it only five per cent efficient.
By comparison there are 40 billion light bulbs in use across the world which are far more efficient.
By replacing old fashioned incandescent models with LED bulbs he claimed he could turn them all into Internet transmitters.
The invention, dubbed D-Light, can send data faster than 10 megabits per second, which is the speed of a typical broadband connection, by altering the frequency of the ambient light in the room.
It has new applications in hospitals, airplanes, military, and even underwater. Aeroplane passengers could in theory be able to surf the Internet from signals beamed out of the lights on board.