Li-fi on planes: Is it the killer app?

ENGINEERS believe they have found a ‘killer application’ for Li-fi:  aeroplanes.

The plan is that Li-fi will be used for the connection of the media players in the headrests.

The transmission of data by LED lighting, Li-fi (‘light fidelity’), has struggled to find mainstream adoption. Instead, it has found favour in military and diplomatic applications, as it is difficult to hack.

But passengers on planes are increasingly demanding broadband data on planes for movies, games and working.

And now three major firms are betting that commercial aircraft represents a major opportunity. Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, Latécoère, a French supplier to plane makers, and Korean communications specialist Huneed Technologies have teamed up to develop Li-fi for passenger use.

The trio demonstrated their product at the Paris Air Show to senior executives of the aerospace industry.

The plan is that Li-fi will be used for the connection of the media players in the headrests.

In the next phase, it will enable passengers to connect their personal devices to the onboard media and Internet, but also interact with each other and have the same connectivity experience on board as on the ground.

A test flight with a Li-fi data service, believed to be first ever, took off this month when Airbus A321 operated by Air France hosted 10 finalists competing in a video gaming competition.

‘The Paris Air Show 2019 gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the power of Li-fi speed’, Latécoère CEO Yannick Assouad told Lux. ‘Our technology raised a lot of expectation from the market and is now ready to progress to the next level.’

‘Partnering with two leaders in their respective sectors such as Signify and Huneed will enable new opportunities and horizons for Latécoère’s Li-fi, to ensure its widespread use in airplane cabins.’

The trio believe that Li-fi, in which data in embedded in the high-frequency lighitng, enables a superior onboard connectivity experience in terms of bandwidth, latency and stability.

Another advantage of Li-fi is that it doesn’t interfere with sensitive equipment and that the connection isn’t affected by the airplane’s movements.

Li-fi also results in less cabling, and together with an infrastructure upgrade to low-weight fibre solutions, will reduce the airplane's weight and fuel usage.

Signify says its Trulifi-branded Li-fi platform has been installed around 100 projects worldwide.

Trulifi is an infra-red two-way wireless connection, with speeds of up to 250 Mbps for the downlink and the uplink.

‘Through this partnership, Signify and Latécoère will transform the cabin experience for passengers by providing them the latest technology in connectivity,” said Olivia Qiu, chief innovation officer at Signify.

‘Trulifi offers enormous potential and our ambition is, in addition to aircraft, to provide this technology to other forms of public transport as well, so people have access to a reliable, secure and fast Internet connection, wherever they may be.’


  • Learn more about Li-fi at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition, taking place at London ExCeL on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free. For more information and to register, click HERE.