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LiFi on trial

LiFi-enabled luminaires that provide energy efficient office lighting and broadband internet connection via light waves are being trialled in the Paris offices of French real estate investment company Icade

Philips Lighting has added LiFi-enabled luminaires to its energy-efficient LED office lighting portfolio. LiFi is a two-way, high-speed wireless technology, similar to WiFi, that uses light waves instead of radio waves to transmit data.

LiFi can be used to provide broadband in places where WiFi signals may interfere with equipment, such as in hospitals; where WiFi signals are weak or nonexistent e.g. underground; or where security is a priority, as line-of-sight is needed to access the network and light can’t seep through walls.

Philips Lighting’s LED luminaires enabled with LiFi technology provide a broadband internet connection with a speed of 30 Mb per second (Mb/s), enough to simultaneously stream several HD quality videos and conduct video calls, without compromising lighting quality. Olivia Qiu, Chief Innovation Officer at Philips Lighting, said: “While radio frequencies are becoming congested, the visible light spectrum is an untapped resource with a large bandwidth suitable for the stable, simultaneous connection of a vast array of Internet of Things devices.”

Philips Lighting’s LiFi luminaires are being piloted in the smart office of French real estate investment company Icade in La Defense, Paris.

In a separate announcement, Philips Lighting says it plans to change its name to Signify to reflect lighting’s evolution into an ‘intelligent language’ that connects and conveys meaning. Under the existing licensing agreement with Royal Philips, it will continue to use the Philips brand for its products.

How LiFi works

Each luminaire is equipped with a builtin modem that modulates the light at speeds imperceptible to the human eye but detectable by a LiFi USB key/dongle plugged into the socket of a laptop or tablet (in the future they will be built into devices). The LiFi USB dongle returns data to the luminaire through an infrared link. With seamless hand-over between light points, users won’t lose connectivity as they move around a large office.

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