Pictured right to left: Professor Haas of Edinburgh University; Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands; Alistair Banham, CEO of pureLiFi and a Kyle Academy pupil.
Kyle Academy in Ayr is testing the use of cutting edge light fidelity (LiFi) technology - which uses light to wirelessly connect to the internet - within the classroom.
Using light waves, LiFi offers much greater bandwidth, significantly increasing connectivity and allowing access to high-bandwidth learning materials such as videos and e-books.
The LiFi network in Kyle Academy is being provided and tested by pureLiFi, a technology company using light to create next-generation wireless networks, in conjunction with the LiFi Research and Development Centre at The University of Edinburgh.
The project is being overseen by the Scottish Futures Trust and the SNP Government is supporting the pilot with a £16,000 grant through its Digital Schools initiative.
The pureLiFi LiFi-XC system in Kyle Academy consists of eight LiFi-enabled LED light bulbs in the ceiling. Pupils are given access to LiFi-XC stations that plug into their laptops, enabling high-speed connectivity through the lights.
Wireless connectivity is in growing demand, as schools seek to cater for more students by maximising the use of space with flexible work areas through mobile devices, such as laptops, rather than wired-internet PCs.
With an increasing number of internet-connected devices in classrooms, installing LiFi alongside Wi-Fi could provide additional bandwidth to reduce network congestion, enabling students to stream educational videos and download resources seamlessly.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, visited the pupils participating in the LiFi trial to discuss their experiences were with this new technology. He said the pilot represented "a potentially very valuable contribution to our knowledge and understanding of evolving 5G technologies."
South Ayrshire Councillor William Grant added:
"It's been really exciting for Kyle Academy to be part of this pilot project to enhance wireless technology and feedback from young people, who have definitely seen an improvement in connectivity, has been positive.”
Commenting, Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
"I am delighted LiFi is being pioneered here in Ayrshire, following our great tradition of inventions and discoveries.
“It's easy to see the potential the technology has, and the difference it could make in the future, in schools, business and in society and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.”
LiFi technology was born out of 16 years of research in light communication by Professor Harald Haas of the University of Edinburgh and further developed by pureLiFi. It is a high-speed, bidirectional, secure and fully networked wireless communication that uses light, rather than radio waves used in Wi-Fi, to transmit data.
Professor Haas added:
"LiFi was born in Scotland at a Technology, Entertainment, Design Global talk that I presented in 2011. Seven years later, I am absolutely thrilled to see true LiFi for the first time deployed 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."
Alistair Banham, Chief Executive Officer of pureLiFi, said:
"LiFi is a transformative technology that will enable the next generation of wireless communications. At Kyle Academy, LiFi has enhanced the classroom into a fully connected environment allowing pupils to have a world of educational tools at their fingertips through light.
"The pupils at Kyle Academy 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."