"Use of the visible light spectrum instead of radio frequencies to enable high-speed wireless data communication and internet access."
Entrepreneurs: Dr. Mostafa Afgani, Professor Harald Haas, Dr. Nikola Serafimovski, Dr. Harald Burchardt
College/School: School of Engineering
The Story: The development of super high-speed transmission using off-the-shelf LED light bulbs initially came from research led by Harald Haas, Professor of Mobile Communications in the University’s Institute of Digital Communications (IDCOM). Professor Haas received funding support from the Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept programme (now High Growth Spin-out Programme) to build and further develop a prototype for commercialisation through the formation of a new University spin-out company.
After Professor Haas delivered a pioneering TEDTalk in 2011, where he coined the phrase ‘LiFi’, interest in the technology accelerated. With proven interest in the technology, Professor Haas co-founded the company pureVLC (now pureLiFi) with Research Assistant Dr. Mostafa Afgani in 2012.
The ground-breaking LiFi technology allows LED light to modulate at a rate so fast as to be imperceptible to the human eye, but which can be picked up by receivers, such as suitably configured smart-phone cameras, at speeds of hundreds of megabits per second, enabling the light source to transmit data. Configuring a light source, such as a simple household LED bulb, with pureLiFi’s ‘Li-Fi’ technology creates a localised data communications centre capable of carrying data, not just in a single data stream, but thousands of data streams in parallel at high speed.
In short: PureLiFi streams data (the internet) at high speed using ordinary LED lights you find in street lights, offices, cars and homes. The localized nature of light means LiFi can be used in intrinsically safe environments – petrochemical plants, hospitals, aircraft, etc., where the use of traditional, radio frequency WiFi can have restrictions.
The spin-out company is now managed by three University of Edinburgh Alumni: Dr. Harald Burchardt, Dr. Nikola Serafimovski, & Dr. Mostafa Afgani. To date the company has produced three iterations of the LiFi product. In 2015, PureLifi teamed with manufacturer Lucibel to introduce the first industrialize LiFi luminaire. The current iteration LiFi-X offers the fastest, smallest and most secure LiFi system on the market.
Professor Haas remains Chief Scientific Officer of the company PureLiFi; however, latterly he has continued his world-leading research at the LiFi centre, which is dedicated to accelerating the development of LiFi as a major global industry, through creating a pipeline for innovative ideas, technologies, products and partnerships.