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Signify, the Philips subsidiary behind Hue lighting, has announced even smarter lighting aimed at businesses: Trulifi lights can transmit and receive data using nothing more than light.

The company is resurrecting a technology first seen in 2011, and pitching it as an alternative to Wi-Fi …

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Signify says that the technology can be retrofitted to some existing Philips lighting systems, and offers faster speeds than Wi-Fi.

Instead of using radio signals (such as WiFi, 4G/5G, Bluetooth, etc.), Trulifi uses light waves to enable highly reliable, secure two-way wireless communications at speeds far above most conventional workplace wireless technologies.

Trulifi uses optical wireless transceiver technology built, or retrofitted, into Philips luminaires. This means customers don’t have to rip and replace their existing lighting infrastructure to receive great quality light and wireless connectivity […]

The new range comprises Trulifi-enabled luminaires providing wireless connectivity at speeds up to 150 Megabits per second (Mbps) over large spaces, such as meeting rooms and office floors. There is seamless handover between each Trulifi-enabled luminaire enabling users to roam around. The speed is fast enough to stream simultaneously 30 1080p HDTV movies. A USB-access key, plugged into a laptop, is needed to receive the LiFi signal and acts as an emitter to send data back to the luminaire.

Trulifi is intended for commercial rather than residential use, and the retrofit option is for one of its office lighting products – so don’t expect to be able to buy an add-on module for your Hue bulbs.

Signify says there are three reasons for companies to use it: speed, security, and the ability to use it in environments where radio communications could interfere with sensitive equipment, for example, intensive care units in hospitals.

We wanted good quality energy-efficient lighting and wireless connectivity capable of handling high resolution images, artwork and big data files. We’ve gone from offering our staff and clients 5 Mbps to a blistering 150 Mbps, and we can roam around freely as one light point hands off to another seamlessly. While it’s encrypted, Trulifi adds an extra layer of security as light can’t pass through walls – so what’s in the room, stays in the room,” said Christoph Ruys, Business Development Manager, Claerhout Communication Campus […]

[Other] potential applications include connecting robots or machines in radio frequency (RF) harsh environments like industrial plants, or hospitals where RF communications may not be permitted.

Because there’s no interference with other radio systems, Signify says data speeds can be guaranteed, unlike Wi-Fi, where available speed varies with signal strength and other devices sharing the same radio spectrum.

There are three versions:

  • Trulifi 6001: LiFi system using visible light with a speed of up to 30 Mbps (available since 2018). Coverage beam of 2m diameter at 2m ceiling height using Trulifi-enabled Philips PowerBalance gen2 luminaire (3m diameter at 2.5m height).
  • Trulifi 6002 series supports offices, healthcare, hospitality and transport markets. LiFi systems use two-way infrared light up to 150 Mbps up and down with a beam of approximately 2.2m diameter per transceiver at 2m height. They provide wireless connectivity in any lighting condition – even with the lights off.
  • Trulifi 6013: LiFi system that uses two-way colored light to create a robust, secure 250 Mbps up and down fixed point-to-point connection with a beam of 20cm at 2m. Connects devices up to 8m.

The 6001 and 6013 products are available today, while 6002 has limited availability and will launch in the US in the fall. No pricing has been announced.

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