Signify partners with industrial networking specialist for Li-Fi

Aug. 27, 2020
Finland’s EDZCOM could work the light-based data communications technology into ports, cargo hubs, factories, mining, and elsewhere.

LEDs Magazine was just thinking this week that it’s been a while since we’ve heard much about Li-Fi, one of those lighting technologies, like OLEDs, that is taking its sweet old time getting to the marketplace with any wallop.

No sooner were we pondering the paucity of news in this area than we heard from Signify that it has partnered with EDZCOM, a Finnish 4G and 5G networking company that will use Signify’s LED-based Trulifi system as part of wireless connectivity schemes in industrial settings.

A quick refresher: Li-Fi uses light spectrum rather than the radio frequencies of Wi-Fi to transmit data and the Internet. Transmission can be either via visible light or via infrared. Proponents believe that Li-Fi will help offload crowded Wi-Fi systems, and offer other advantages, such as greater security. Although Li-Fi systems can serve the dual purpose of illumination, they can also exist solely as communications conduit.

Perhaps more than any other facet of lighting, Li-Fi symbolizes the lighting industry’s intentions to morph into a provider of information technology as well as continuing with more conventional illumination.

The idea at EDZCOM is to add Li-Fi to a technology mix that already includes LTE (Long Term Evolution, a telecoms standard), Wi-Fi, and other well-known components of wireless broadband connectivity.

“Signify’s Trulifi is an innovative form of wireless communication that will broaden the scope of business-critical operations solutions we offer to our global customer base,” said EDZCOM CEO Mikko Uusitalo. “Trulifi complements EDZCOM’s offering by providing fast and secure fixed hot-spot communication links.”

What Uusitalo did not say is that EDZCOM has lined up customers or locations for the technology, which Signify enhanced under the Trulifi brand in June 2019.

We assume that pilots are in place, and are waiting to hear back from Signify. Pre-dating Li-Fi, EDZCOM lists projects with airport operators, ports, and port handlers including Finland’s Finavia, Port Oulu, Steveco, and Kalmar. The Espoo-based company also works in the mining, manufacturing, and energy industries, which would all seem to be candidates for Li-Fi.

“Combining Trulifi and EDZCOM’s strengths and capabilities will benefit industries that heavily rely on the cluttered radio spectrum for data communications,” said Signify chief innovation officer Olivia Qiu. “Trulifi can help to offload conventional radio technologies and offers reliable, secure, and high-speed network connectivity where it’s needed.”

Li-Fi emerged commercially around 2012, and the road to mainstream use has yet to reach its destination. Among the reasons is that gadget makers have yet to embed Li-Fi receivers in laptops and phones, so users have to attach dongles to their devices. And in a related matter, a standards battle has yet to settle down.

Still, Signify continues to push. It claims to now have over 150 Li-Fi projects worldwide. Its ambitions include installing Li-Fi for Internet service on trains and buses.

The transportation sector is also on the radar of vendors of another long-evolving lighting technology — OLEDs — which is unrelated to Li-Fi except in the general business sense that both have been a long time coming. LEDs has written recently about OLED possibilities in automobile tail lights and even in recreational vehicles.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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