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Li-Fi pioneer lands funds to chase $9 billion market

He Haas it: Prof Harald Haas and his company, pureLiFi, have landed another round of venture funds to chase the potentially lucrative Li-Fi market. Above, Prof Haas eye a critical component of his LED-based Li-Fi system.

The company at the forefront of using visible lightwaves for Wi-Fi style data transmission has landed another venture capital infusion, and said it expects additional funds later this year.

Edinburgh-based pureLiFi, a pioneer in ‘Li-Fi,’ said in a press release that it raised £1.5 million ($2.26 million) from a group led by London & Scottish Investment Partners, a private angel investment firm.

The round valued the 2012 spin-out of Edinburgh University at £14 million. Investors included the Scottish government’s Scottish Investment bank as well as Old College Capital, the venture investment arm of the university.

pureLiFi claims to have launched and shipped the world’s first Li-Fi (light fidelity) network product late last year. The product, called Li-Flame, ‘turns off-the-shelf light fixtures into Li-Fi access points’ and includes a laptop attachment to recieves and decodes light signals the company said, noting that it has has strong demand. It cited a MarketsAndMarkets report forecasting a $9.3 billion Li-Fi market by 2020.

Li-Fi relies on the digitally controllable nature of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. It is a type of ‘visible light communication’ technology, which modulates lightwaves in a manner that transmits data while keeping the modulation invisible to the human eye. It could become a linchpin in ‘connected lighting,’ in which LED lamps become integral parts of information networks that connect people and things.

‘Li-Fi is increasingly viewed as a transformative technology that can change the way we use the mobile internet as part of future 5G cellular networks and at the same time be an enabler of the emerging Internet of Things,’ said Prof Harald Haas, pureLiFi’s co-founder and chief science officer.

Proponents of Li-Fi say that it will add enormous capacity to wireless communications, because the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the radio frequency spectrum that Wi-Fi uses (see chart below).

Some also note that it will operate much faster than Wi-Fi, and that it will be useful in electromagnetic sensitive areas like hospital, airplanes and nuclear power plants. In one potential application, LED lights in toys could communicate with each other, making the toys interactive.

On the downside, Li-Fi signals do not travel as far as Wi-Fi signals do.

Chart is from pureLiFi website

Photo is from pureLiFi