LightPointe, Firefly Wireless Networks target light-based alternative to WiFi

June 30, 2016
LightPointe Communications, Inc., which specializes in RF and free-space optics communications systems, says it is one of the principal investors in a startup focused on visible light communications (VLC), or LiFi. Firefly Wireless Networks LCC will focus on VLC systems that compete with WiFi in a variety of applications.

LightPointe Communications, Inc., which specializes in RF and free-space optics communications systems, says it is one of the principal investors in a startup focused on visible light communications (VLC), or LiFi. Firefly Wireless Networks LCC will focus on VLC systems that compete with WiFi in a variety of applications.

Firefly Wireless, founded two years ago, has developed patented VLC technology that it has incorporated into initial products, LightPointe says. Other investors in the company include venture capitalists Berg and Berg Enterprises and German telecommunications engineering company Teleconnect GmbH.

An alternative to WiFi would be attractive, Firefly Wireless and its investors believe, because the WiFi spectrum has become crowded and light-based free-space communications would prove less susceptible to interference and intercept.

"Our first product emerged from research and development a few months ago, has completed thorough testing, and is awaiting FCC approval," said Andreas Bluschke, CTO of Firefly Wireless Networks and managing director of Teleconnect. "The Office SecureLink is a highly secure indoor Ethernet communication bridge for point-to-point and point-to-multi-point connectivity, using red, green, blue, or invisible infrared light. The access point and client, or subscriber units, can be installed in conference rooms, offices, and other indoor environments where the utmost in security is desired while avoiding WiFi congestion and signal security issues."

Firefly Wireless foresees a wide range of applications for LiFi, ranging from secure networks to factory automation, consumer electronics, Internet of Things, medical facilities, automobiles, and even underwater environments.

"After operating discreetly in stealth mode for two years, we are excited to finally announce Firefly Wireless Networks," said Dr. Heinz Willebrand, who is serving as CEO of Firefly and continues to serve as founder and CEO of LightPointe. "LightPointe invested resources and created Firefly to focus on what is one of the hottest technology growth sectors on the horizon, visible light communications, which -- due to the proliferation of LED lighting and LED use in commercial and residential devices -- is expected to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the coming years. VLC technologies are one of the communication methods which the so-called Internet of Things will use to connect millions of consumer electronics and Machine to Machine (M2M) devices cost-effectively, and without the use of scarce radio frequency spectrum."

Firefly Wireless is not the first company to envision a light-based approach to indoor networks (see, for example, "RiT develops indoor free-space optical network technology"). LightPointe cites an unnamed research report that estimates the demand for VLC systems could reach $100 billion by 2024.

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About the Author

Stephen Hardy | Editorial Director and Associate Publisher

Stephen Hardy has covered fiber optics for more than 15 years, and communications and technology for more than 30 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing.

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