As part of a pilot project, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute equipped a classroom at a vocational school in Gelnhausen in the Main-Kinzig district with LiFi technology in November 2020. Developed by Fraunhofer HHI, this novel technology enables wireless data transmission via light. The installation and testing phase, which lasted for several months, has just been completed. Researchers from Fraunhofer HHI's "Photonic Networks and Systems" department now put the LiFi installation at school in Hesse into operation: This creates Germany's first networked LiFi classroom.
LiFi technology can be deployed as an alternative or supplement to widely used WiFi. LiFi uses the optical spectrum to transmit data wireless at high speeds. The frequency of the generated light pulses is so high that the human eye cannot perceive the flickering of the light. LiFi can reduce traffic on conventional radio networks. At the same time, it ensures protection against unauthorized access, since communication is only possible in a spatially limited area illuminated by LiFi.
The communication cells of the LiFi system are partially equipped with several optical front ends and thus interconnected, which ensures uninterrupted communication. This allows laptops and other devices with connected USB LiFi modules to be used on the move in the classroom, achieving connection speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s.
Germany's first connected LiFi classroom will now be extensively tested by teachers and students to gain important user experience insights which will help to further improve the system. In the coming months, school staff and students will share their experience and gather ideas on how to best integrate the LiFi system into everyday school life. The researchers and the school will stay in an ongoing dialogue about the topic. "The implementation of this project is largely due to the support of the Main-Kinzig district and the commitment of the interested teachers and students," said Dr.-Ing. Dominic Schulz, project manager at Fraunhofer HHI. "We look forward to further collaboration and the joint development of additional use cases."
With this pilot project, the Main-Kinzig district wants to take on a pioneering role in the evaluation of LiFi. The team wants to see what type of practical advantages LiFi brings compared to conventional wireless solutions. They also want to play an active role in the digitization of schools. "We are very pleased about having the opportunity to test an innovative system that is just entering the market with our students," said Winfried Ottmann, district councillor of the Main-Kinzig district. Other vocational schools have already expressed interest in installing LiFi systems.