Commercial Lighting Tampa Florida

Li-Fi edges closer as Signify backs the technology

SIGNIFY HAS bought another Li-Fi company in a major vote of confidence in the emerging technology.

The company, the world’s biggest lighting manufacturer, has purchased San Diego-based start up Firefly LiFi in what it described as a ‘strategic acquisition’.

The deal – reported in the Edison Report – follows Signify’s takeover in February 2017 of French Li-Fi developer Luciom.

Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, has 30 trials of the technology around the world. At last year’s Light + Building exhibition, company CEO Eric Rondolat said his ambition was to take Li-Fi – ‘light fidelity’ in which LED lighting provides a broadband Internet connection through light waves – into the mainstream.

The plan is that Signify would license its technology to OEMs, ensuring that the Li-Fi capability could be bundled in luminaires from different brands.

In another development, Li-Fi developer pureLiFi has unveiled the first ‘Gigabit’ Li-Fi platform for smart phones. At Mobile World Congress, the Scottish firm showed new optical components that will allow phone users to access ultra-fast 5G services from LED luminaires.

A Li-Fi installation at a cancer centre in Italy, is one of a large number of trials taking place around the world.The test project, at the Oncological Reference Centre in the National Cancer Institute in Aviano, is designed to explore if receiving data from the LED lights cut the electromagnetic interference with life-saving equipment such such as MRI scanners. The project is a collaboration between the University of Udine, the VDA Group and pureLiFi.

It also emerged this month that the US Army is trialling Li-Fi as a way of delivering secure battlefield communications.

This technology is being investigated by the Research, Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center’s Expeditionary Maneuver Support Directorate.

The technology will be used in temporary battlefield HQs known as ‘expeditionary mission commands’.

A key advantage for the army is that Li-Fi eliminates the problems associated with the time-consuming task of running data lines in tactical operation centres and command posts. Also, since the technology does not use radio waves, it cannot be detected outside the confines of the mission command platform.

‘The technology uses light waves to transmit and receive data between the servers and the user’s computer,’ said Melvin Jee, the leader of EMSD’s Command Post Platforms Branch. ‘As light cannot pass through walls, the enemy cannot detect the signal.’

The army is working with US Li-Fi manufacturer VLNComm.

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