A SCOTS firm that has become a global leader in using light instead of radio frequencies to transmit data has scored a world first with a multi-million pound deal to supply a futuristic communication system for the US Army.

Edinburgh-based pureLiFi said the $4.2 million (£3.02m) deal with the US Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) is the world’s first large scale deployment of LiFi.

Its newly developed system, Kitefin, with unique features for defence scenarios, comprises thousands of certified office and field-deployable LiFi units in real tactical and strategic environments.

The system uses light to transmit data, unleashing more reliable wireless communications with unparalleled security, compared to conventional technologies, such as cellular, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Using radio frequencies (RF) in secure and defence environments poses many challenges, mainly because RF can be detected and targeted.

However, Kitefin cannot be detected outside its defined cone of coverage, and also allows for rapid set-up and positive logistical impact – saving time, money and lives. An initial pilot of pureLiFi’s technology with the USAREUR-AF took place in 2019, and convinced key stakeholders that LiFi would play a key role in the future of defence communications which resulted in the largest ever purchase of the technology.

“Including optical wireless in the commander’s toolbox is imperative to the survival of communications, command and control systems and, more importantly, soldiers,” said Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Foreman, USAREUR-AF’s chief technology officer.

The deal comes after pureLiFi’s recent £18m series B investment to take LiFi mainstream and followed the company’s launch of “gigabit components” designed for integration into mobile phones and consumer electronics.

New technology that eventually ends up in the hands of consumers is often evaluated, adopted and used first by the defence sector, who traditionally lead the way with new and proven secure technology innovation.

Alistair Banham, CEO of pureLiFi, said the largest real-world deployment of LiFi was a testament to the benefits that LiFi can offer and the technology’s usability.

He said: “If one of the most significant and advanced defence organisations in the world can rely on LiFi for the most critical of communications, LiFi can offer unprecedented benefits to the consumer. LiFi, like so many technologies before it, is on a classic journey of adoption in defence to widespread acceptance in the consumer market and eventually LiFi in everyone’s home.

“Since offering our gigabit components to the market, we have developed some very innovative proof of concept integrations with some of the world’s largest consumer electronic and mobile phone brands.

“We are closer than ever to seeing consumers having LiFi in their homes and their pockets. This first major deployment with the USAREUR-AF is just the beginning.”