PureLiFi gets £10m boost from Scottish Government
With Li-Fi on the verge of mainstream for a long time, but never quite getting there, it’s good news for vendors when they receive funding to help keep things going. To that end, the pureLiFi pioneer has snagged £10 million ($11.9 million) from the Scottish government.
The Edinburgh-based company said the infusion of the Scottish National Investment Bank “will allow pureLiFi to further develop new technologies while opening up additional markets in areas such as mobile phones, tablets, wearables and devices. ‘other connected devices’.
The company hasn’t specified which technologies it will pursue with support, but they will likely include the development of laser chips to replace the LEDs used by pureLiFi.
Li-Fi, or light fidelity, typically modulates visible or non-visible light waves from LEDs to transmit data. It is a light-based Wi-Fi alternative first developed by pureLiFi (then called pureVLC) a decade ago. Li-Fi works with a combination of transmitters and receivers in fixtures and gadgets such as phones, laptops and tablets.
Although pureLiFi and other providers have built up a small customer base, they have yet to reach big numbers. Gadget makers have generally not incorporated the technology. A battle of standards does not help.
Some Li-Fi experts believe adoption will accelerate when lasers replace LEDs, delivering exponentially faster data rates. PureLiFi last October recognized LED magazine that lasers mark the future of Li-Fi. He has developed a laser-based antenna module for use inside telephones and is eyeing light fixture technology.
In the same vein, the company’s co-founder and scientific director, Harald Haas, considered the “father of Li-Fi”, is now also an advisor to Kyocera SLD Laser. KSLD, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., has demonstrated that laser Li-Fi operates at 600 to 700 times the speed of commercial Li-Fi and 100 times faster than advanced Li-Fi demos. He works on the miniaturization of components.
Even without the speed of lasers, LED-based Li-Fi offers advantages in some cases over Wi-Fi – sometimes it’s faster and sometimes not.
It’s more secure than Wi-Fi, which led the US military to use both pureLiFi and Signify.
Li-Fi also avoids electromagnetic interference, which may make it more suitable than Wi-Fi or other radio technologies in environments such as hospitals and factories, where radio interference is a problem.
Li-Fi can also serve the practical role of relieving congested Wi-Fi spectrum, which often suffers from interference when one Wi-Fi network conflicts with another. PureLiFi drew considerable attention to this aspect of Li-Fi by announcing the £10m.
“Li-Fi is complementary to Wi-Fi technology, delivering transformationally improved performance,” the company said. “Furthermore, when Wi-Fi and Li-Fi work together, users of both technologies enjoy significantly improved connectivity, because Li-Fi also improves Wi-Fi. The number of connected devices in a average household has more than doubled in the past two years As more devices connect to struggling home Wi-Fi networks, bandwidth is divided, interference increases and response times slow for everyone.
The emphasis on complementary Wi-Fi seemed like a change in tone for pureLiFi, which in the past has drawn more attention to the superiority of Li-Fi over Wi-Fi. For example, when it last funding announcement – an $18 million Series B funding round in November – he noted that “Li-Fi can unleash faster, more reliable and more secure wireless data communication.”
The Scottish National Investment Bank, founded in November 2020, is not a bank per se. It provides capital to “net zero” companies and innovative missions. One of its principles is “to invest where the private market does not invest,” it states on its website.
Privately-held PureLiFi’s Series B funding round was led by Singapore’s public investment banks Temasek, which also led a round in June 2016. PureLiFi raised four seed funding rounds – two in 2012 and two in 2015.
Li-Fi’s long gestation period was recently revived when networking stalwart Cisco began championing it.
BRAND HALPER is editor of LEDs Magazine and a journalist specializing in energy, technology and business ([email protected]).
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