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LED bulb delivers data through light, instead of Wi-Fi

To stream movies, go on Facebook and shop online, you normally use Wi-Fi or wireless Internet. A tech company in England has come up with a bright idea of using LED light bulbs to transmit data.

The aptly-named Li-Fi system was created by pureLi-Fi, based in the U.K. Using visible light communication, instead of radio frequency signals, data is transmitted -- providing a way to connect to the Internet.

According to the company, a ceiling unit is connected to the internet by Ethernet and is then hooked up to a LED bulb.

"The led light is turned on and off very quickly, millions of times per second...and in this manner conveys the signal -- the internet data -- to a receiving device that sits next to and connects to a laptop," Nikola Serafimovski, the director of public marketing, told CNET's Kara Tsuboi.

The receiver decodes the flickering lights -- that the human eye can't detect -- and interprets the data. However, if someone were to stand in front of the light, the signal could get interrupted.

CNET Senior Editor Luke Westaway tested out the system at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"The way the system works is really interesting, but I do think we've got a really long wait before this thing has a chance of competing with the traditional radio signals that we use for communication at the moment," Westaway said.

Still, it is a Wi-Fi alternative with a potentially bright future.

"Our technology can be applied really in any environment that is currently lit. That means that you can have wireless data transition using light anywhere where you can see light," Serafimovski explained.