The 2012 LED Olympics

The London Olympics are certainly on the tip of nearly everyone’s tongue (and Twitter account) at the moment, but did you know there used to be many different kinds of Olympic competitions? From 1912 to 1952, the Olympics featured art competitions in fields like literature, painting, sculpting, music, and architecture. Check out this little goody from the 1948 London Olympics:

1948 Gold Medal Etching
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This piece, entitled “Swimming Pool” by French artist Albert Decaris won gold in the Engravings and Etchings competition.

In 1949, the International Olympic Committee decided to stop all art competitions, reasoning that it was illogical to let professional artists compete, while only amateur athletes were eligible. Instead, cultural festivals replaced the art competitions, and still do to this day. There’s still a chance for the best of the best artists and entertainers to showcase their stuff on an international stage, and for lighting designers, this is certainly a world class exhibition. 

LED is the light source that’s in it to win it this summer, wowing Olympic fans with spectacular light shows and festive monuments alike.

At the opening ceremony, LEDs were at the center of almost everything. The dove bikes used LEDs to light up their wings as they performed a circuit of the stadium.

Dove Bikes at the 2012 London Opening Ceremonies
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They also lit the Olympic Rings to look like molten metal in the ceremony’s blazing industrial scene.

Industrial Showcase at the 2012 Olympics
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LEDs lit the screen showing the Queen’s acting debut, with none other than James Bond.

The Queen and James Bond on the LED screen at the 2012 Olympics
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Even the stadium seats got the royal LED treatment, lighting up the audience in waves, beating and pulsing to music.

The Seats In London's Olympic Stadium
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Even before the torch lighting, London was ready to go with other impressive LED applications.

The iconic Tower Bridge got an LED makeover earlier this year, updating the bridges’ 118-year-old static light bulbs. Operators can control the lighting scheme of the bridge remotely, able to tailor its look to the city’s goings on. (Expect a lot of gold and silver during this Olympics).

Tower Bridge Lit Up With LEDs for the 2012 Olympics
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Olympic Park is certainly not without its fair share of LEDs too. Thousands of LED modules light up the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome, and Aquatics Center.

London's Olympic Park Lit up with LEDs
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Even on the sidewalk outside the main Olympic Stadium, there are 20 circular slabs that capture the kinetic energy of pedestrians’ footsteps to light up nearby LED lamps for 30 seconds at a time!

LED Kinetic Walkway at Olympic Park
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What could be cooler than all this, you ask? On top of all the amazing shows and innovations this summer, the LEDs will save London quite a bit of energy. For example, the new lighting scheme will cut the Tower Bridge’s energy use by up to 40%!

So, while I might be a little bit crushed that I’ll never make Olympic history as a gold medal writer, the amazing LEDs are more than enough to cheer me right up. What’s your favorite lighting feature from this year’s Olympic games? Please share in the comments below!

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.