With the growth in the use of digital design and manufacturing processes, we are at the forefront of delivering ‘in-hand data’ to our engineers through tablets and augmented reality and virtual reality tools. Throughout our manufacturing sites and platforms, we are embracing new ways of working to facilitate novel methods of secure data sharing and collaboration through increased connectivity.
Li-Fi has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about connecting individuals and systems in the future. It could have an exciting role to play in digitising our future manufacturing capability.
Jim Bisset, Engineering Manager, Manufacturing, BAE Systems
Wi-Fi networks aboard platforms like submarines whether in service, construction or dock, present unique challenges that must be addressed to achieve agile and remote digital working. Where it isn’t possible to install secure Wi-Fi because of physical, environmental or security constraints, we are now investigating the use of a novel technology called Li-Fi.
Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves to transmit data, Li-Fi transmits data at superfast speeds using visible, ultra-violet and infrared light. The technology works through switching LEDs on and off at incredibly high speeds unnoticeable to the human eye. Although the LEDs must always remain powered to transmit, they can be dimmed so that they are not visible but still provide a data function. Li-Fi cannot penetrate walls, which makes it much more secure to outside interference or hacking. While this presents issues with range, data speeds of up to 70Mbs and beyond are feasible because of the available bandwidth.
As well as allowing engineers to communicate with one another, Li-Fi has the potential to be used to enable systems to communicate, or to introduce connectivity where it has not been previously possible due to logistic or environmental challenges. Li-Fi does not provide electromagnetic interference, so it can be used in close proximity to sensitive instruments. The increasing use of LEDs in the home, automotive and more generally throughout industry has seen their price fall, and the technology is evolving rapidly and becoming more affordable.