BARCELONA—PCMag witnessed a small footnote in telecom history this week at Mobile World Congress: the first Skype call over a light fidelity (LiFi) connection.
The call was made using an old Samsung Galaxy S5 housed in a custom-built case that was adapted to fit a modified LiFi-XC dongle. The demo was made possible by modifying PureLiFi’s existing Linux drivers so they played nice with Android, which is of course based on a version of Linux.
PureLiFi CTO and co-founder Mustafa Ghani told us that it took five weeks to rewrite the code, modify the hardware so the handover module connected to the phone’s micro USB port, and get a case shipped over from an manufacturer. Getting the case delivered on time actually took the longest.
Though the Galaxy S5 is obviously not running an up-to-date version of Android, the proof-of-concept demonstrates that when the components are small enough to be built into phones and, more importantly, LiFi is enough of a household name for OEMs to actually bother doing so, getting this up and running on the Samsung Galaxy S14 (or whatever they call it) won’t be a problem.
At the PureLiFi stand, we saw both devices connect to the internet with all other radios and Wi-Fi connections turned off, using light from the two Luminaire bulbs mounted into the ceiling and a Light Bar, the LiFi equivalent of an office fluorescent tube.
PureLiFi’s bulbs are capable of delivering bandwidth of up to 42Mbps up and down and are designed to be complimentary to Wi-Fi; though all other radios were turned off to demonstrate that the technology works, the idea is that by carrying some data over visible light, there will be more room for other traffic in the congested 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band.
While PureLiFi’s solutions are designed primarily for industrial use cases, the plan is at some point to have the components be small enough to be integrated in consumer devices, which is what these proof-of-concepts are about.
“At PureLiFi we continue to drive LiFi technology to the next stage in its maturity,” said PureLiFi’s CEO, Alistair Banham.
“These two new integrated examples point to the future that LiFi will provide. We see LiFi connecting every device and everyone. Today we’ve proven we’re clearly on the way to realising that vision.”
PureLiFi was showing off a Dell laptop (pictured above) that was modified so the same CMOS receiver sensor and infra-red transmitter components from the LiFi-XC were integrated into the PCB and its case; while we were unable to do more than visit Speedtest.net on this, it proves that getting LiFi receivers into all manner of devices won’t be a problem.