Scottish school is first in world to use light in creating a wireless network

KyleKyle Academy in Ayr has become the first school in the world to deploy technology that uses light to create wireless networks.

LiFi is high-speed, bidirectional, secure, and fully networked wireless communication that uses light, rather than radio waves used in Wi-Fi, to transmit data. The trial at Kyle Academy involves eight LiFi-enabled LED ceiling bulbs that connect with USB devices plugged into the pupils’ laptops.

By using light waves, LiFi offers unprecedented bandwidth, which significantly enhances the connectivity of the classroom to enhance the learning environment by facilitating high-bandwidth learning materials such as videos and e-books.

With the increasing number of internet-connected devices in classrooms, installing LiFi alongside Wi-Fi provides additional bandwidth to reduce network congestion, said the technology’s developers Edinburgh-based pureLifi, enabling students to stream educational videos and download resources with seamless connectivity.

Wireless connectivity in growing demand as schools seek to cater for more students by maximising the use of space with flexible work areas through the use of mobile devices, such as laptops, rather than a room of of static wired PCs.

The students are taking part in the early adoption of technology that will someday be in every light and every device connecting everyone and everything

The project is being conducted in conjunction with Edinburgh University, overseen by Scottish Futures Trust and supported by the Scottish Government with a £16,000 grant from its Digital Schools initiative for equipment and installation.

pureLiFi and the LiFi Research and Development Centre at Edinburgh University are providing resources for the pilot with hands-on support and subsequent testing.

“LiFi was born in Scotland at a TED Global talk that I presented in 2011,” said Professor Harald Haas, co-founder of pureLiFi. “Seven years later, I am absolutely thrilled to see true LiFi deployed for the first time in a school in Scotland.

“Connectivity has become a basic need to enable prosperity. This world’s first pilot not only offers secure connectivity in a school, but hopefully inspires the next generation to join us in innovating for humanity and prosperity.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands visited students taking part in the LiFi trial. He said: “We are pleased to support a Scottish-born company whose complementary, emerging technology has the potential to transform delivery of wireless broadband communications.

“The pilot trial in Kyle Academy represents a potentially very valuable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of evolving 5G technologies.”

Alistair Banham, chief executive of pureLiFi added: “At Kyle Academy, LiFi has enhanced the classroom into a fully connected environment allowing students to have a world of educational tools at their fingertips through light.

“The students are taking part in the early adoption of technology that will someday be in every light and every device connecting everyone and everything. This is just the beginning for LiFi, on our journey toward unprecedented data and bandwidth.”

South Ayrshire Council’s portfolio holder for lifelong learning, Councillor William Grant, commented: “It’s easy to see the potential the technology has, and the difference it could make in the future – not just in schools, but in business and in society.”

Pictured (r-l): Professor Haas, Paul Wheelhouse, Alistair Banham, and pupil.