James Kotecki (00:00): 

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This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki. The world's most powerful tech event, CES 2024, brings the future to Las Vegas, January 9th through 12th. And today, we preview the future of Esports and the light-speed internet that will make it possible. And I do mean light speed in a literal sense. We're talking Li-Fi internet. That's Li-Fi for light fidelity. It's like Wi-Fi delivered on the invisible light spectrum. Is it really that fast? And is it feasible for the forthcoming future of fun?  


Let's light things up with Mike Fasulo, he's the co-founder of the Li-Fi technology company, PhotonFi, and Gayle Dickie, the CEO of Gamer World News, who can tell us all about how Esports is getting into this game. Welcome both of you to the show.  

Gayle Dickie (01:33): 

Good to be here. 

Mike Fasulo (01:34): 

Hello, James. Great to be here. Good to see you, Gayle. 

Gayle Dickie (01:37): 

You too, Mike.  

James Kotecki (01:39): 

Mike, I want to start with you to lay some technical groundwork here. Is it fair to think of Li-Fi as basically faster Wi-Fi, but it can't go through walls? 

Mike Fasulo (01:49): 

I would phrase it a little differently. I would say it enhances wireless connectivity significantly, and specifically, when you look at it from a security point of view. It can't be hacked. It's unjammable. If you look at it from a stability point of view, regardless of how many users are on the system, you get the same no degradation of signal.  

Now, if you look at it from a gaming perspective, in latency, 0.5 millisecond-latency. Almost no latency whatsoever. And it's just a very consistent upload and download platform that can deliver up to 250 megabits per second upload and download systematically. Maybe a little more exciting than your intro. 

James Kotecki (02:32): 

But I want to make sure people can understand this compared to maybe what they're currently using. We definitely want to get into the Esports use case in a second, but think about ... I don't know. The average person streaming YouTube in their house, for example. How much better is this for them if they have Wi-Fi, if they have the ability to use that?  


Do they notice the difference? Or is it something where you really notice the difference in an Esports or a kind of context like that, where you need really high-speed, really stable internet, because of the activity that you're in? 

Mike Fasulo (03:06): 

Technologically, I'll answer it, and business-wise. The use cases we're currently deploying would be in the gaming and business side, the enterprise side. So IT, gaming, and enterprise. Will it eventually get into the living room of self-consumers? Yeah, I think so. The difference is, because it's light-based, you're not going to see a difference.  


However, you'll experience a difference on the performance. Compared to Wi-Fi, you're not going to have degradation of signal. You're going to be totally secure. You're not going to see any drop in performance. So those types of things, you will experience. But it's light, so it's really hard to see a difference in the actual set up. But the performance? Clearly, a difference.  

James Kotecki (03:57): 

We're going to get into the Esports use case here. I want to ask you one more technical question from the Esports perspective.  

Mike Fasulo (04:04): 


James Kotecki (04:05): 

If someone is an Esports athlete and they have all the latest equipment, all the latest gear, obviously those things have access to Wi-Fi. Do they need to modify or buy anything special to be able to access Li-Fi when they go into a situation that has that available? Or is it literally as simple as you go on your Wi-Fi manually and you toggle the different options? This would be another option on there. I guess I'm just trying to figure out how much different is this from the user's experience to actually get on this. 

Mike Fasulo (04:37): 

Sure. And then, maybe after I respond, Gayle may want to respond as well. Thinking about it from the user experience, it's simply putting a dongle in your PC, and then on your network you pick, the Li-Fi. From a production point of view, it will connect to any incoming signal. ISP, whatever broadband you have coming into the structure. 


And then, there are specific devices for the production side, that actually being the light. All right. So it's more of a very big cone of light that is directed right at the user. But from the user perspective, it's plug and play. 

James Kotecki (05:18): 

Let's talk about the play aspect of this. Gayle, before we get into the use case in Esports, I'd love you to just contextualize some of how Esports is doing and what it's doing here as we're getting to the end of 2023. Can you help us first baseline some numbers to understand the popularity of Esports? 

Gayle Dickie (05:36): 

Sure. My favorite thing, because it just keeps growing. Every week, I look, and it's just getting bigger and bigger. For the most part, let's look at it from an overall global perspective. We're clocking about 3.2 billion gamers around the world, and about $4 billion in revenue by the end of this year.  


You always take the global game revenue and you're doing about 1.5%, so we're still looking at $1.5 billion in Esports revenues by year-end. There's around 540 million Esports viewers globally. And that should go to 614 by the end of the year, if I remember correctly. There's some really great stats here. The top gamer, Johan Sundstein, has a career earnings of $7 million.  


The US has over 45 million Esports viewers. The total prize monies are $153 million to date. 153 million played League of Legends just last month alone online, and they have the most concurrent viewers with 1.3 million on at the same time, which is surprising, but there were 168 million kids, players, on Minecraft last month.  

James Kotecki (06:53): 


Gayle Dickie (06:53): 

The numbers are staggering. They're going to continue to grow and I think it opens up an interesting possibility for new technology and how it'll change the game, not only for the audience, but for the competitors. 

James Kotecki (07:06): 

Can we talk about the highest levels of competition here? Obviously, more and more people are familiar with Esports every day, but for those who would maybe still not be as familiar ... We're talking about arenas. We're talking about people in arenas. They're sitting in front of computers with a group of other teammates, facing off against another team, but there's people physically there that are watching them. And obviously, there's people who are streaming the competition remotely. 

Gayle Dickie (07:31): 


James Kotecki (07:31): 

And this is, I believe, the context in which Li-Fi would be useful. 

Gayle Dickie (07:35): 


James Kotecki (07:35): 

Can you, Gayle, help us understand what's going on there? And maybe, Mike, can you chime in as well and help us understand what technically needs to happen there from an internet perspective? On to you, first, Gayle. 

Gayle Dickie (07:44): 

I think what's important to know is that, from the audience perspective, it's going to be stable and smoother. No question. And from the competitor standpoint, I think it's going to provide a competitive edge as we move forward, where split-second reactions are going to be crucial. It's great for the gamers themselves. 


For admin, it's going to be a significant change. You won't see the cumbersome wires in the set up, and the take-down is going to be astronomically faster. I think it's going to affect both from the competitor standpoint, the audience, and then certainly in terms of administrative needs. That's pretty much the overall view. Wouldn't you agree, Mike? 

Mike Fasulo (08:30): 

I do, Gayle. When you look at the world of gaming, competitively ... Gayle's the expert here, but most gamers are wired. 

James Kotecki (08:43): 


Gayle Dickie (08:43): 


Mike Fasulo (08:43): 

So Li-Fi brings benefits to wired. More benefits than wired, and many more benefits than Wi-Fi. But if you're in a stadium as a fan, trying to connect to the Wi-Fi system ... If you're in a dead zone, you're in a dead zone. With Li-Fi, because of the spectrum of the light, it'll improve the fan experience.  


There's also geolocation capabilities, which wired and Wi-Fi are challenged with, where we can specifically get to a seat in a stadium to a fan and you can imagine what you can do as a promoter with that type of fan experience. From the gamer point of view, the wires go away. It's more mobile, and again, the geolocation. And obviously, the lack of latency, the low-latency is significant. 


I think when you look at the ... I hate using the word, but the whole ecosystem. From the production to the administration to the gamer to the fan experience, there's attributes that will make that a better experience for everybody.  

Gayle Dickie (09:49): 

I want to add one more thing. If you think about it in terms of what it means to Esports, I think the way players compete will definitely see a competitive edge. But from the standpoint of the way the equipment is designed, this could really open up a whole new world here in terms of incorporating the Li-Fi transceivers into their devices. And that'll help speed up the gameplay transmission.  


You're talking about controllers and headsets and keyboards. It'll just speed up the overall connectivity. I'm not sure, personally, if it'll be entirely noticeable, but I think it depends on the game. When we get some of the pros in there to really use it and maybe do some case studies, I think we'll get some pretty remarkable information about it. 

Mike Fasulo (10:44): 

The goal is to have it not noticeable, right?  

Gayle Dickie (10:46): 


Mike Fasulo (10:46): 

Because if you're noticing something, it's probably something went wrong. 

Gayle Dickie (10:54): 

Right. Right. But faster. It should be faster. 

Mike Fasulo (10:54): 

Faster. Yeah. 

James Kotecki (10:58): 

We seem to be talking about this in the future tense, so can both of you benchmark where this technology is right now and when the most elite Esports athletes can anticipate actually using this technology in a competitive setting? 

Gayle Dickie (11:15): 

Well, I think it's in the early stages for sure. And I'll let Mike speak to where they are in their cycle. But I think we're in the process of setting up some testing and some usages. Whether it's colleges or universities or just some overall team play. I know I'm helping the guys move forward in that area. 


But as soon as there's some case studies and early use reporting, I think we're going to see movement to more and more events, because they've got nothing to lose. Do you want a bunch of wires? Or do you want to have it break down easy and put it up pretty quickly? 

Mike Fasulo (11:59): 

From a deployment point of view, it's mainly deployed in Europe. And in Europe, it's deployed at military defense. It's deployed at a particular airline in aerospace. It's deployed in transportation and financial. Just now, through PhotonFi, the company that I've co-founded, we're deploying it in the US. 

James Kotecki (12:27): 

One of the security aspects here is, as I mentioned at the top, this doesn't go through walls. Correct me if I'm wrong. Which means that if you have it in one room, you're not going to get it in another room. Presumably, it means that if you're able to block the line of sight between what's sending the signal and what's receiving the signal, you can shut that signal down.  


Is that correct? And then, I want to hear from you, Gayle. Does that open up potential ways to cheat in Esports that we haven't seen before? Or just kind of play a dirty trick on your opponent by covering up their Wi-Fi receiver? Mike, you first on making sure I'm right on the technology.  

Mike Fasulo (13:07): 

You're close on the technology. It is light-based technology, so if you're on the other side of the wall, obviously light doesn't go through a wall. So it would be contained within the space you have the antennas in. Now, you can daisy chain. You can add more access points and more antennas, i.e., a stadium, but where the light stops is where the signal will stop. 


Blocking the signal ... It has cache in it, so if somebody walks through or was to hand over something, you're not going to experience any underperformance. But if you covered it and blocked the light completely, I would imagine that you'll get some interference. But generally speaking, that's not practical. 

James Kotecki (13:57): 


Mike Fasulo (13:58): 

The way that it's emitted, it's emitted in a cone and it covers a wide space. You'd really have to fight hard to try to block the signal.  

Gayle Dickie (14:09): 

From the standpoint of ... If we're already talking about cheat mechanisms on a system that's not even deployed, I think we're really ahead of ourselves. It's a little bit sly, but I think you'd have to see some kind of hand movement or something. I think it would be fairly noticeable.  


The other way I look at it is, if you're hosting a non-traditional environment event, like on a cruise or something, it'll be great for game cruises. It's just going to provide that low-latency and high bandwidth opportunity. In terms of cheating, I think Mike would agree. You'd have to make some deliberate movements and it would be very obvious to any of the people watching. 

James Kotecki (15:01): 

Is there a culture in Esports of good sportsmanship? I may be implying too much about the culture of Esports itself by even implying that people would try to do such a thing. Is there a good sportsmanship vibe in Esports? 

Gayle Dickie (15:18): 

That's the goal. I think we all want a fair game just like in any traditional sports environment. Does it happen? Sure. Is it going to continue to happen? Probably. Everybody moves forward with their best intentions. Why do you think they call it, "Good game." Play a good game and may the best player win.  


You try to promote that, but I think in terms of technology and all of these newer items that are coming along to improve that Esports and competitive game environment, it's only going to make the experience better. Maybe it gives people less of a chance to think about cheating, because they're so enthralled with the way the game plays? 

James Kotecki (16:03): 

We're talking about this technology as really starting to roll out now, but still relatively early days. Beyond the actual technology itself, are there other infrastructural things or other kinds of technologies that need to advance in order for this to advance or take on more of a role in our lives?  


Are there regulatory things that need to happen? In other words, are there any roadblocks to Li-Fi right now? Or is it just simply a matter of deploying it? 

Mike Fasulo (16:37): 

More the latter. It's a technology that was actually announced as a concept over a decade ago, so there's been a lot of work in the past decade and obviously infrastructures have improved significantly as well. At this point, it's really about roll out, scale, and iterations going forward. 


Today, you have a modem and a router. You have an access point with an antenna, and then you have a dongle that connects. And the dongle is important, because that's where a lot of the software regarding privacy and security and latency and everything is being transmitted, but you can imagine the dongle at some point goes away.  


You can imagine, as we partner with others, you can get it into embedded devices. There's a whole lot of opportunity ahead. That being said, it's ready for prime time today. We are shipping it, so there's not many obstacles in the way other than the fact that awareness ... Folks aren't aware of it and we just need to roll it out. It's exciting. 

James Kotecki (17:47): 

We're trying to help on the awareness side right now. 

Mike Fasulo (17:49): 

You're doing a great job. Keep it up, please. 

James Kotecki (17:52): 

Well, thank you. Gayle, when we talk about the ways that the experience will change for folks who are playing video games, folks who are playing video games professionally, I can't help but think that with a far better system of delivering content via the internet comes opportunities for AR, VR, situations where you need to deliver a lot of information to folks.  


I'm curious. As we're speculating on ways that Li-Fi could be deployed here, do you see applications for new ways of doing things in AR or VR that could be aided by something by Li-Fi? 

Gayle Dickie (18:31): 

Yeah. Listen, in terms of the way game developers design games, I think we'll be able to see some new gameplay mechanics because they can create these new challenges that are triggered by light, which will be very interesting. And then, in terms of AR and VR, I think you're looking at really a smart light integration with a reduced cost involved. I sound like a commercial. 


But I think the location tracking and accurate indoor positioning, from how I understand it, so that virtual objects can interact with physical objects more precisely in those virtual environments ... That's going to be really interesting, that you would not be able to do, I don't think, to the scale unless you were using this new Li-Fi technology. 

Mike Fasulo (19:26): 

I was going to say the same. The geolocation aspect and the low-latency aspect makes that connection between real and virtual even that much more real-life, live-like, so it will be a better experience. 

Gayle Dickie (19:26): 


Mike Fasulo (19:40): 

And that it's all-inclusive in the device will obviously eliminate any interruptions you may have. Light-based technology is not radio waves, so there's no interference from a wave point of view, what you do get with other devices. 

James Kotecki (20:00): 

It sounds like you're talking about mapping rooms, mapping environments with this, which makes me think of LiDAR. Can you maybe quickly illuminate for folks the difference or the similarities between LiDAR technology, which is on some mobile devices, some makers of autonomous vehicles want to use that to navigate around the world ... How related or different are these things? Or how should we be thinking about both of these technologies in relationship to each other, Mike? 

Mike Fasulo (20:28): 

I think we should think about them in relationship to each other as the future. The future of innovation. On the spectrum, light is far away from microwaves. Any interference you would get in a medical office, any interference that you would get in a building with gaming, where there's a lot of different devices and computers and signals coming in ... Light-based technology eliminates that. 


Think about an automobile as well. It's such a perfect enclosed space that you can deliver the best of the best in entertainment on a light-based perspective. I think they're complimentary. Actually, I think it's complimentary with Wi-Fi. It just makes Wi-Fi better. It's not to replace Wi-Fi, but it enhances the performance you're getting today. 

James Kotecki (21:26): 

Can we go one step further on the medical side of things? If there's a hospital or a medical setting that has Li-Fi, are they going to be able to do what they're currently doing better or faster? Or will they really be able to do new things that they weren't able to do before? 

Mike Fasulo (21:44): 

Both. The concern is you don't want to have any disruption when you're in a medical facility, and obviously in an operating room.  

James Kotecki (21:55): 


Mike Fasulo (21:55): 

You want everything to work perfectly. Again, the more radio waves in that room, the more interference you're prone to, but with Li-Fi, you don't have that. It takes that variable out of the equation so it becomes safe. Think of white rooms, clean rooms as well, where you can't have any distortions of signal coming into the clean room, chip makers, et cetera. 


This would allow a device inside that room that would not transmit any kind of radio wave. It's very much forward-thinking on the medical field side, not only for hospitals and physicians, but also for individuals. 

James Kotecki (22:37): 

And that's what I love about CES, because we come into this conversation talking about a better form of internet and Esports, and we also look at applications in mobility. We look at applications in health. Speaking of CES, yes, that was a very professional transition ... Gayle and Mike, I want you both to let us know what you're excited about for CES as you're making your plans for CES 2024. What are you looking forward to? Gayle, you first. 

Gayle Dickie (23:00): 

Okay. Well, I'm definitely planning on being there and meeting with more sponsors and advertisers and partnership opportunities on a global scale. Hopefully, we're going to be making some big announcements on the content partnership side with not only broadcasts, but mobile and streamers around the world. And I always like going to see the latest and the greatest to see what's coming up for 2024, so I look forward to being there. 

Mike Fasulo (23:28): 

Likewise, and we're going all in. It's interesting because I'm a former chairman of the executive board of the Consumer Technology Association, the producer of CES, and ran Sony Electronics for a number of years, so I'm very accustomed to CES and the 170,000 plus attendees that join the show.  


But this is going to be so much different for me, because we'll be in Eureka Park. We're a startup, so we're going to be around other startups. It's going to be a very different experience, but we'll have a booth in Eureka Park. We've signed up for a number of panels to have discussions just like we're having a discussion. Really excited.  


I'm so excited that we were chosen for Trends of the Future from the CTA. It was on the roadshow ... I think it was in Paris. Li-Fi was brought up as well as PhotonFi as the future, and the future of, again, innovation for good. That's important. 

James Kotecki (24:33): 

Wow. Congratulations. That's great. Also, thank you so much. Maybe it's because of your association with CTA or you just knew to do this, but, "All together. All in. All on." That's the CES tagline this year, so you even delivered the brand in your answer, Mike, and I really appreciate that.  


We've really talked about some interesting ideas about how the future can unfold with this technology, but just in case we left anything on the table, I want to give you both one last opportunity, one last final thought to say why you're excited about Li-Fi and what you're most excited about for what it'll mean for the future. We'll go in reverse order of that last one, so you first, Mike. And then, we'll close it out with you, Gayle. 

Mike Fasulo (25:16): 

I think it's phenomenal technology that's ready now, and the market is ready now. If you look at all the concerns around cybersecurity and all of the concerns around performance and expandability, here's a technology that is good for the universe, it's good for the environment, it takes out copper wires. It ties into the CTA's mission, the UN's mission, which is now a promotion between the two.  


And it's exciting for me to be a part of this roadmap going forward to provide technology for good and really improve experiences. So I'm excited. I couldn't be more excited. I came out of retirement to do this. You've got to be pretty excited if you give up your golf club and come out, right? 

James Kotecki (25:58): 

Glad you did. Yeah. 

Gayle Dickie (26:02): 

For me, for Li-Fi, in terms of what I look forward to seeing accomplished ... Maybe starting on the low-hanging fruit. From a small college, university, doing some testing with them to a team level, to the pro, to the major events. Once we hit a major event, it could happen very quickly. I think it's going to be a great alternative. I'm happy to help these guys push the message. 


It's a global solution, to be honest, that has a time and a place. And I think the time is now. I'm excited to see what it does. Anytime I can get on with you guys and talk about Esports and the future and tech, I'm all in. Thanks for having me.  

James Kotecki (26:51): 

Well, thank you so much to you both. Mike Fasulo of the company PhotonFi and Gayle Dickie of Gamer World News. Thank you so much for joining us today.  

Gayle Dickie (27:00): 

Thank you. 

Mike Fasulo (27:00): 

Thank you, James. Thank you, Gayle. 

James Kotecki (27:03): 

And that's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. So if you're joining us on YouTube, be sure to hit that Subscribe button and leave a comment. If you're listening on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartMedia, or wherever you get your podcasts, be sure to hit that Follow button, and you can get even more CES and prepare for Vegas at ces.tech. That's ces.tech.  


Our show today produced by Nicole Vidovich and Mason Manuel, recorded by Andrew Lynn, and edited by Third Spoon. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.