Scottish National Investment Bank thinks LiFi is a bright idea

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The concept of LiFi – Light Fidelity, or using visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light to convey data wirelessly – has been around for at least a decade. However, practical solutions using the technology have been few and far between, largely due to a lack of effective standards.    In recent years, however, following the creation of LiFi standard 802.11bb in 2019, significant technical progress has started to be made, with solutions becoming more and more commercially viable…

The concept of LiFi – Light Fidelity, or using visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light to convey data wirelessly – has been around for at least a decade. However, practical solutions using the technology have been few and far between, largely due to a lack of effective standards. 

In recent years, however, following the creation of LiFi standard 802.11bb in 2019, significant technical progress has started to be made, with solutions becoming more and more commercially viable, with proponents highlighting its potential advantages over traditional WiFi.

In a recent Cisco Tech Blog, the company’s principal engineer John Parello spoke encouragingly about LiFi’s potential to help free up overcrowded radio spectrum.

“With an emerging technology called Li-Fi we can get relief from crowded spectrums,” he said. “By using light in place of radio waves to provide secure, high-performing wireless connections, Li-Fi can potentially revolutionize the access layer of the Internet as we know it.”  

Now, the Scottish National Investment Bank is seeking to nurture this exciting technology, announcing this week that it is has invested £10 million in local LiFi specialist, pureLiFi.

The company says it will use the funding for additional research into LiFi technology, as well as allowing the company to take their solutions into new global markets. 

“The bank’s investment will help us achieve our vision to connect everyone and everything with LiFi. We introduced our technology to the world from Scotland and it is important for us to grow our company and ecosystem from here,” explained pureLiFi CEO Alistair Banham. “Our vision is for Scotland to be a recognised centre of excellence for LiFi. In the future customers from around the world will come to us for our innovative technology and leverage the wider photonics ecosystem that already exists here in Scotland.”

The deal represents a continued growth in momentum for pureLiFi, who in April last year scored a roughly $4.2 million deal with the US Army Europe and Africa for the use of its Kitefin™ technology, following an initial pilot in 2019.
The deal was followed in December last year by another order of ‘thousands of additional units of the LiFi Defence system, Kitefin’, for an undisclosed sum. 

But why is the military so interested in Li-Fi? The answer lies in its inherent security properties compared to other wireless technologies. Kitefin allows for rapidly deployable LiFi connectivity in a military operational setting, while being harder to intercept and jam than WiFi or mobile communications.

 “LiFi technologies answer all three of the serious issues associated with the RF portion of the spectrum […] due to the low probability of detection, jamming, and intrusion,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 5Andrew Foreman, U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s Chief Technology Officer.

While it seems unlikely that we will see LiFi replace WiFi on a significant scale any time soon, this technology undoubtedly has major potential as a complementary technology at the very least. Whether on the battlefield or in controlled indoor locations, like school classrooms or a hospital, LiFi’s future seems bright. 

 

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