Connectivity on track with Trulifi


    March 5, 2020


    Signify’s Trulifi technology delivers lightspeed connectivity solutions for the new age of train travel

    Across the globe, train travel is having something of a moment. A new awareness of the environmental effects of air transport has forced travelers to confront their own impact on the planet and seek out sustainable alternatives. Public policy isn’t far behind.

    In Europe, the Green Deal puts a new emphasis on sustainable mobility. The direction is clear: planet-friendly forms of transport are on the rise.

    But the railway renaissance is not just about our carbon footprint – it’s about convenience, too. For time-poor travelers, it’s easy to see the appeal of riding the rails: skipping airline check-in queues, arriving directly at your destination instead of landing an hour’s cab ride away, and clawing back travel time to catch up on email or binge Netflix. The destination matters, but increasingly, the journey does, too.

    Rail operators are stepping up overnight services on long-distance routes, laying high speed track and offering luxury experiences that tap into a nostalgic vision of a bygone age"

    Rail operators are getting in on the trend, stepping up overnight services on long-distance routes, laying high speed track, and offering luxury experiences that tap into a nostalgic vision of a bygone age.

    But today’s operators have a challenge that didn’t exist in the golden age of steam: keeping all those passengers and their devices online.

    Laptop connected

    LiFi is light years ahead

    As the leader in lighting innovation, Signify is addressing the challenge of connectivity on board, and amazingly, we’re doing it all through the power of light. Not only can lighting provide connectivity on the go, but it does it all at blistering speeds that far surpass the WiFi connections we’re used to. And naturally, it includes great quality light.

    Signify’s Trulifi is a connectivity technology that uses light waves to enable an internet connection that’s fast, stable and reliable. It’s great for super speed internet in the workplace, and for transportation, the benefits are multiplied.

    What’s more, unlike the radio spectrum, the light spectrum is license-free. This means no upfront investment for network operations in government-issued spectrum licenses.

    Connectivity on track graphic

    No compromise on connection quality

    Indeed, connectivity is one distinct advantage that rail has over air travel, and it’s an issue on which long distance travelers are unwilling to compromise. Today’s passenger expects to stream high definition movies, upload heavy files, and make video calls, every kilometer of their journey.

    And in our connected world, the train itself has connectivity requirements; for example, HD cameras collect security footage that must be offloaded on physical hard disks for processing.

    When you look behind the curtain, how to keep the connection stable and fast is a crucial question that operators must face. At home, our WiFi router passes a radio signal to our TV or smartphone in more or less a straight line.

    A large, moving vehicle presents more challenges. Trains are full of metal surfaces and also full of people. Both of these elements affect the ability of radio transmissions to reliably hit their destinations.

    Heavy, constantly moving carriage couplings that lie open to the elements don’t play well with the data cabling needed to link carriages to one another. And linking the train to the outside network requires costly cellular data connections, which are unable to penetrate tunnels or mountains along the way.

    Trulifi 1

    Stellar speeds and heavy data lifting

    By adding Trulifi to the connectivity mix, seamless connections and stellar speeds become possible. HD streaming and even online gaming are on the table.   


    Signify is already working with Latécoère to provide Trulifi on commercial aircraft, connecting seat-back screens to fast internet with a speed up to 250 Mbps. Trains and buses are a logical extension.

    Connectivity to seat-back screens could also be extended to passengers’ own devices through a seat-point USB connection. And as with the adoption of WiFi and Bluetooth: when the infrastructure becomes more widespread, we’ll likely see LiFi receivers built into a new generation of laptops, tablets and eventually smartphones, rendering a wired connection unnecessary.

    In future, LiFi can revolutionize the way we connect on the train. LiFi-equipped poles, placed at intervals along the track, follow the moving vehicle, beaming high speed internet underground, through tunnels and hilly terrain.

    Airco and lights

    Secure connection technology that rides the rails

    Behind the scenes, Trulifi offers a robust wireless platform to connect the growing demands of digital equipment and IoT sensors between train wagons. It offers the connected train greater reliability and safety and also provides ‘plug and play’ wireless communication when regrouping trains or doing maintainance.

    Arthur C Clarke famously said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. You could also say that really effective technology is completely invisible."

    Those chunky security video files that are currently stored on local hard disks in the train, along with other data, can be downloaded and processed at high speeds the moment the train pulls into a station, improving passenger safety.

    Arthur C Clarke famously said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. You could also say that really effective technology is completely invisible.

    For passengers, uninterrupted high speed internet connection is something that’s supposed to just work. Meeting that expectation is a differentiator that can help keep rail travel on its upward trajectory – while helping people and the planet, too.

    About the author:

    Mark Gunther
    Mark Gunther

    Go to Market Leader, Aerospace & Transport – Signify

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2019 sales of EUR 6.2 billion, we have approximately 32,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been named Industry Leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for three years in a row. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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