A TECHNOLOGY that looks set to revolutionise the future of wireless communications has now been made small enough to be integrated into laptops, tablets and smart appliances.

In a world first, global tech company and Edinburgh University spin-out pureLiFi has unveiled the LiFi-XC, which can best be described as a plug-and-play dongle, and which provides high-speed, bi-directional and secure wireless communication through light.

The new LiFi-XC is three times smaller than the previous generation, allowing easy integration with an array of devices.

Alistair Banham, the company’s CEO, said: “Over the past year we have been driving adoption of LiFi and deploying real-world applications of LiFi for our customers globally.

“We have now reached the point in miniaturisation where we will see LiFi move beyond the dongle and be integrated. The LiFi-XC is a big step towards getting this technology into every bulb and every mobile device.”

The device is the world’s first certified, complete LiFi system, comprising an access point (base station) and USB dongle compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OS operating systems.

This step forward in making the technology commercially available will allow pureLiFi to start to meet demand for it.

LiFi is increasingly viewed as a disruptive technology that can change the way the mobile internet is used as part of future 5G cellular networks while being an enabler of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), where more of our domestic commercial devices are connected and can be remotely controlled.

Mostafa Afgani, pureLiFi’s chief technical officer, added: “The LiFi-XC offers plug and play connectivity out of the box and supports an even wider range of off-the-shelf LEDs.

“We have not just improved the design with LiFi-XC – we have also delivered a module that can enable smart devices and appliances to be LiFi connected today.”

The device supports multiple access, roaming, complete mobility and ease of use – providing a level of user experience that is comparable with technologies such as Wi-Fi with all the security benefits of the light spectrum.

Because it uses the light spectrum to deliver connectivity, LiFi is not restricted by the radio frequencies utilised by standard wireless networks. Internet is delivered through light from LED bulbs, offering thousands more channels for wireless communications and unprecedented data and bandwidth.

The development comes as organisers prepare for the world’s first Global LiFi Congress. World scientific and economic leaders in the field will discuss and demonstrate the technology, as well as give more than 20 presentations over two days in Paris in February.

Meanwhile, Glasgow’s IoT network, said to be the most advanced in the UK, has been given a boost with a new gateway at Glasgow College’s new Riverside Campus on the south bank of the Clyde.

The consortium behind the LoRa network – Stream Technologies, Semtech, Boston Networks, and CENSIS, the Scottish innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems – is also to start work with college staff and students to help them use the new technology.

Each gateway can connect up to 10,000 devices within a radius of at least three miles in urban areas. The city network has already been used to monitor river levels, the capacity of public bins and pollution levels in the city centre, with a host of other trials under way.

The new gateway adds to the eight already placed around the central, west end, and northern areas of the city, and will extend coverage to Glasgow’s south east, as well as improve the consistency of connectivity for devices in the city centre.

Dr Mark Begbie, business development director of CENSIS, said: “The City of Glasgow College’s Riverside Campus is the ideal location for the latest addition to the Glasgow LoRa network – enhancing the city’s existing coverage and extending it to the south east.

“It will also act as an important engagement point for us with the college’s staff and students, giving them the best possible opportunity to use the IoT.”