A Scottish firm has secured a $4.2 million contract from the US Army to supply a “next-generation” optical wireless communications system.
The Kitefin LiFi system harnesses light spectrum technology to transmit data, an advance over conventional technologies that use radio frequencies (RF), according to developer PureLiFi.
The technology enables data to travel through pulses of light emitted by an LED bulb. The transmitted data is then interpreted by receivers.
‘More Secure Than Conventional Technologies’
The Edinburg-based firm claimed that the system provides more reliable, secure wireless communications than conventional technologies such as cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth.
The advantage of the technology is that data can be transmitted even in areas susceptible to electromagnetic interference such as hospitals and aircraft cabins where RF systems don’t work. Additionally, data transfer speed is much greater than conventional technologies.
PureLiFi stated that the deal with United States Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) will lead to the first large-scale deployment of LiFi. The deployment will consist of “thousands of certified office and field-deployable LiFi units in real tactical and strategic environments,” the firm added.
Radio Frequency Based Communication Less Secure
The US Army has been relying on RF communications since 1898. However, the service pointed out that “RF spectrum, whether used for line-of-site or SATCOM, is highly detectable, congested, contested, and separately managed by each host nation.”
Andrew Foreman, chief technology officer with the USAREUR-AF, said: “Including optical wireless in the commander’s toolbox is imperative to the survival of communications, command and control systems and, more importantly, soldiers.”
PureLiFi stated that their technology eliminates risk as it “cannot be detected outside of its defined cone of coverage.”
Next Aim Is to Reach Wider Consumer Base
Alistair Banham, CEO of PureLiFi, said that soon the technology will reach public consumers.
“If one of the most significant and advanced defense organizations in the world can rely on LiFi for the most critical of communications, LiFi can offer unprecedented benefits to the consumer,” he stated.
“LiFi, like so many technologies before it, is on a classic journey of adoption in defense to widespread acceptance in the consumer market and eventually LiFi in everyone’s home,” he added.
“Since offering our gigabit components to the market, we have developed some very innovative proof-of-concept integrations with some of the world’s largest consumer electronic and mobile phone brands. We are closer than ever to seeing consumers having LiFi in their homes and their pockets.”