SIGNIFY – the company formerly known as Philips Lighting – has raised the bar on Li-Fi, increasing the maximum speed of its light-based connectivity products by a factor of more than eight.
The developments make Signify ‘the fastest Li-Fi company in the world’, said Ed Huibers, the company’s head of business development for its Li-Fi activities.
The two new superfast Li-Fi products announced today under Signify’s Trulifi brand are very different to the one the company unveiled last year.
Rather than encoding data in the same white light emitted by a luminaire to light a room, one of the new products uses infrared, while the other uses visible red, blue or green light from a dedicated source to provide a point-to-point connection.
Li-Fi is usually synonymous with visible light communication (VLC), but in the case of Signify’s new infrared product, the light isn’t actually visible.
The Trulifi transceiver, however, is visible: as a small black-fronted box about the size of a Sharpie marker, sitting on the surface of the luminaire. Not as elegant as being integrated within the fitting, perhaps, but the performance speaks for itself.
The Li-Fi product launched by Signify last year boasted a speed of 30Mbps, while today’s Trulifi products go up to 150Mbps for the infrared product, called Trulifi 6002, and 250Mbps for the visible light version (Trulifi 6013).
To put that in perspective, 150Mbps is fast enough to simultaneously stream 30 movies in full HD.
Both products can be integrated with luminaires – or retrofitted to existing ones – and are powered and controlled through the same infrastructure.
The infrared version communicates back and forth with small USB peripherals attached to computers, while the visible light version uses a concentrated directional light, either to connect a luminaire to a single computer, or to connect two devices to each other.
The latter product could be used to transfer very large files quickly and securely between robots in factories or medical machinery in hospitals, especially in areas where RF systems aren’t allowed.
Li-Fi aims to provide an alternative to the increasingly cluttered radio frequencies used for Wi-Fi and mobile data, which suffer from well-known problems with speed and reliability, as well as concerns about security.
Signify says it has achieved the latest increase in data speed for its Li-Fi technology by ‘turning all the dials’, optimising factors like optics and modulation.
As well as being faster, Signify says the 150Mbps product will cost about a quarter of what was available before.
At Signify’s demonstration at its offices in Eindhoven, a live graph showed the speed of the Li-Fi and Wi-Fi connections in the same room.
The Wi-Fi signal looks like a mountain range, constantly up and down, while the Li-Fi signal was as flat as Signify’s native Netherlands – showing that the signal is consistent and reliable.
And because both products use a separate and dedicated source, you can dim or turn off the luminaire and they still work.
Li-Fi can’t yet do everything – the fact that it requires a line of sight is one obvious limitation, although arguably also an advantage for security reasons.
Although Wi-Fi, 4G and 5G have their role to play, Ed Huibers of Signify says: ‘There are numerous applications where Li-Fi is a better choice. We advise the customer to pick the technology that fits their requirements, and we see a huge potential for Li-Fi.’
Customers already on board for Trulifi include Globalworth, a Polish investment company which has 18 Li-Fi luminaires in three meeting rooms, and Claerhout Communication, a marketing agency in Belgium which is using four Li-Fi luminaires in one room.
Christoph Ruys of Claerhout Communication told Lux Review: ‘It’s really nice for our people to work with because it’s so fast. You really feel the difference. If it keeps working as well as it has so far, we’d like to expand it to the rest of the building.’
Signify has developed the new products in line with the new ITU G.9991 standard for Li-Fi. It hopes to benefit from its strong market position and large installed base to make Li-Fi mainstream, especially with the ability to retrofit it into existing Philips products.
Chief innovation officer Olivia Qiu said: ‘We’ll help existing and new customers to leverage their lighting infrastructures to receive reliable, secure, high-speed wireless communication at a very competitive price-point. Wherever there’s light, there can now be wireless communication.’
- Learn more about Li-Fi at the Smart Spaces Arena at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition, taking place at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition at London ExCeL on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free - see the full programme and register for free HERE.