The Power of Silicon Comes to LEDs


Silicon is amazing. We’ve all seen what those tiny silicon chips have done for computers in the past few decades – they’ve gone from mysterious machines to ubiquitous household objects capable of the stuff of dreams. Now, Bill Watkins, CEO of Bridgelux proposes silicon is about to do the same for LEDs.

Where Silicon Can Take Us

Silicon could revolutionize the solid-state lighting (SSL) industry. It has the potential to make light sources like LEDs faster, cheaper, and more functional.

Current SSL lights like LEDs have already come leaps and bounds ahead of older light sources like fragile incandescent lights, but with silicon, we could see them overcome the light socket completely, and become embedded in stairs, cabinets, and other household fixtures. They could also have added features like motion sensors or color changing abilities, so you can easily alter your home’s mood at will.

SSL Today

So technically speaking, why is silicon so great? Well, since the ‘60s, silicon has dominated high technology. It allows innovators many advantages in creating new digital products because it’s cheap to make, and holds structure well. You can shrink things like transistors without destroying their functionality with silicon.

Currently, light emitting diodes (the semiconductors that generate light inside SSL light bulbs and fixtures) are a rare digital technology that doesn’t rely on silicon. (more…)

Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Innovations, Upgrades, and Explorations

Lighting technology never ceases to amaze. This month’s Lighting Roundup is all about new lighting technology, ways to improve your lighting and energy use at home, and some of the most exciting lighting designs and installations I’ve seen in a while!

Image via SNTech.co.uk

In Lighting News…

LightRecycle, a non-profit program to recycle lighting products in British Columbia, recently expanded to recycle all lighting products at no charge – the first program of its kind in Canada. The program began in 2010, and it caters to both commercial and residential clients.

Dan Watson, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, won this year’s James Dyson Award for his sustainable fishing net called SafetyNet. This special trawler fishing net uses strategically placed holes and LED lights to separate fish of different ages and species. These illuminated “exit signs” allow smaller non-marketable fish to escape.

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Rise…And Shine That Blue Short-Wavelength Light


Kids these days. They haven’t got it easy. According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 70% of school children don’t get their full 8 hours of sleep on most school nights. Whether this is due to heavy workloads, intense extracurriculars, goofing off, or simply having an overactive mind, the resulting problems are the same. Inadequate sleep has been linked to things like depression, behavioral problems, poor academic performance, drug use, and car accidents.

However, a recent study led by Mariana Figueiro and Mark S. Rea of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute may have found an unexpected remedy for stressed, sleep-deprived kids: blue light.

To understand the study, first we need to know a little bit about the human body.

The Cortisol Awakening Response

The hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland, operates on a 24-hour cycle, helping regulate our bodies navigate in and out of sleep. Concentrations of cortisol reach a minimum at bedtime and a peak in the morning. Levels hit their max in the first hour of waking, this is called the Cortisol Awakening Response or CAR.

Experts associate a high CAR with better preparedness for the stresses and challenges of the day.

So how the heck does blue light factor in? Well, we’ve already seen how short-wavelength light can suppress melatonin to keep you awake at night (read more on that here), so it’s not surprising that it has an influence on us in the morning. (more…)

Guiding Lights for the Great Indoors

Image via ByteLight.com

Holiday shopping is already beginning – that time of year when we dart frantically from aisle to aisle trying to find just the right gifts for our friends and family, and to ready our homes for the season. But imagine with me for a moment what it would be like to have your own personal guide to help you map out an efficient route through the store. No more combing aisles to find that perfect shoe-rack, or having to book it the entire length of a Super Target to get that pair of headphones you forgot.

A new startup called ByteLight is working on an innovative new idea for an indoor GPS-like system with the help of LEDs and smartphones. The idea is to have an app or program for the phone that guides shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for within a store (and even find discounts on products).

Instead of sending a signal out to space like a normal GPS, your phone would connect wirelessly with the LED lights in the store to guide you where you want to go.

For the system to function, the LED light bulb would blast a specially designed light signal to the camera of your smartphone to determine your location. The signal would consist of blinking patterns of light, too rapid for the human eye to notice. The technology would be able to detect a person’s location within one meter, and do it in less than a second.

To get the system to actually work for you, ByteLight’s software would need to be installed on your smartphone and the LED lights would need a special chip to send the signal.

The chip within the LED would be cheap to add, and would use the shopper’s location to help them find their way to the products they want, also delivering targeted ads. Any current smartphone camera would work with the system. (more…)

Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Getting Smarter

Image via Kickstarter.com

In lighting news…

Over the past month, I’ve seen so many smart-controlled energy efficient light bulbs popping up on the market, growing what Forbes.com calls “The Internet of Things,” in which objects (and not just people) communicate over the web. Each light bulb has an Internet IP address that you monitor wirelessly with a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Some popular models include LIFX (featured on Light Reading earlier this month), and Philips’ Hue coming to Apple Stores tomorrow, October 30!

According to ThinkProgress.org, New York City was the first U.S. jurisdiction to publicly post energy efficiency information for its building stock last month. A series of mind-numbing spreadsheets might not seem so exciting at first, but this is a key step in establishing energy transparency in the real estate market.

In lighting tips…

Speaking of energy efficiency, have you seen the new Home Advisor from EnergyStar.gov? It’s an online resource that gives you detailed information on just about every way you can save energy at home. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions (Where you live, how you heat/cool your home, etc.) and they’ll give you a list of everything you can do to save a little more power. (more…)