Sapphire Industry Watch – June 19

  • Light on your feet! Japanese inventor creates LED dancing shoes that allow users to paint the town any colour they like – Daily Mail: With artists and performers in mind, Japanese inventor Yuya Kikukawa has designed shoes with 100 LED lights and motion sensors in each sole. The “Orphe shoes“ can be controlled independently from a tablet, allowing the creative wearers to paint the town with their feet in customizable patterns.
  • Mount Rushmore introduces unique lighting system – KDLT News: Thanks to a new LED lighting system, the night time viewing experience has been improved for the nearly two million visitors who visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial each year. The recently installed system will result in less light pollution while reducing energy consumption by 90 percent.
  • Through the wormhole! Waterslide with spectacular LED lighting gives sensation of travelling through time – Daily Mail: Bad 1, an indoor leisure pool on the German coast of Bremerhaven, features an incredibly colorful LED waterslide that is undoubtedly the fantasy of every child. Completely unsuspecting from the outside, multi-colored rings and lights provide riders sliding down the 25 foot tall and 256 foot long waterslide with the feeling they are traveling through a wormhole.
  • Why LED lights may become standard equipment on most cars – The Cheat Sheet: According to the Department of Energy, as LED prices have gone down in recent years, both their value and availability have skyrocketed. This drop in price will allow more cars than ever before to feature LED lighting. What were once considered a luxury, features such as sport LED- headlamps, daytime running lights and LED-charged turn signals are becoming much more common on affordable automobiles.

Glowy Zoey “The LED Baby” Becomes a Business

This time last year, 22-month old Zoey Hutain became an Internet sensation after her father posted an irresistibly cute video of her in an LED stickman Halloween costume. The video of “Glowy Zoey” quickly went viral, leading to over 22 million views on YouTube, along with appearances on shows like Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Fallon, Nightline, CNN and more.

Now, anyone can “shine as bright as little Glowy Zoey did” since Zoey’s father, Royce Hutain, recently launched his own online business to sell LED sitckman suits for toddlers, children and adults — just in time for the holidays!

His online store promotes the stickman suits (and, of course, benefits of LEDs):

The costume edition of the Glowy Zoey LED suit is made to be affordable to anyone who wants to light up their world. You will not find a brighter, more eye-catching costume than this brilliantly shining LED stickman costume! Not only will you or your child be the center of attention, you will also be the safest. We have done tests where this LED Halloween costume has been seen from a mile away! Make light of everything you do and join the hundreds of others that have already joined the Glowy Zoey family!

While he says it was never his intention to start a business out of the homemade costume he made purely for fun, the idea sparked after he received over 1,000 emails last October inquiring where to purchase the same outfit Glowy Zoey was wearing.

This year, Hutain has had costumes of several different sizes and stick figure outlines manufactured, including a Minnie Mouse suit Zoey wore especially for a trip to Disney World. The Disney-inspired suit features 372 multi-colored LEDs and hides a microphone to make the suit responsive to sound.

Make your own LED costume and share it with us on Twitter (@RubbiconSapph) for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

Wearable LEDs – LEDs Go Upscale in Fashion

We’re all familiar with the use of LEDs in children’s sneakers when each step a child takes lights up an LED in a sneaker. Now, LEDs are going upscale in clothing with designers taking advantage of LEDs for aesthetics and even going high tech to highlight your mood.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

Swiss design house Akris’s Albert Kriemler used LEDs in his new ready-to-wear collection that premiered in Paris in March. Akris took cues from science and technology in designing his latest collection.  His latest show debuted two long evening dresses and a suit glimmering with constellations of tiny LED lights.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

Designer Elizabeth Bigger’s Lüme Collection brings LEDs to the simple black dress and black shirts.  The collection uses embedded LEDs that can be illuminated in patterns controlled from a smartphone to bring a little fun into the clothing.  According to an article in Gizmag, Bigger’s objective was to “create a series of garments that could adapt to the users daily life, changing in color depending on the event, location, mood, or even just to match another garment or accessory.” Using a link via Bluetooth to a smartphone, the LEDs in the clothes can even mirror your mood as posted on social media, the weather forecast, or any other data to which your smartphone has access. Recently, the Lüme Collection won the Jury Prize in the Aesthetic Category at the 17th International Symposium on Wearable Computers.

Sensoree's Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

Sensoree’s Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

While most clothing designers focus on aesthetic appeal, the designer of Sensoree’s Mood Sweater focused on the practical with a medical spin. Kristin Neidlinger created the sweater during her MFA design research at the California College of the Arts for people with conditions like autism or sensory processing disorders. The mood indicating sweater can help the sweater wearer actually see how they are feeling and project those feelings to others around them.

According to an interview with The Verge, Neidlinger says she thought of it as strictly a therapeutic device, while the fashion industry started to notice it for both its technical and stylistic creativity. The sweater uses sensors to detect a certain kind of sweat in the palms of the wearer’s hands that varies depending on the wearer’s emotional state, and then translates it into multicolored light emitted by LEDs.

For Further Reading

LEDinside, LEDs Hit the Runway in AKRIS RTW Fall 2014 Collection, http://www.ledinside.com/news/2014/3/leds_hit_the_runway_in_akris_rtw_fall_2014_collection

Gizmag.com, Lüme fashions feature flexible, programmable LEDs, http://www.gizmag.com/lume-fashion-led-smartphone-programmable-wearable-electronics/29300/

The Verge, http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/26/5449322/make-it-work-what-should-fashion-look-like-in-the-age-of-connected-devices

LED Wall Paper for Your Inner Geek

Lighting designer Ingo Maurer and his latest invention, LED wall paper

World renowned lighting designer Ingo Maurer has been working with LEDs since the late 1990s.  He recently partnered with high-end wallpaper manufacturer Architect Papers to create LED wall paper. The wall paper comes in large 126 x 23.5 inch sheets that hold printed circuit boards containing 840 integrated LEDs.

The wall paper can be switched on or off to create a combination of colors and patterns and can be dimmed to create a more subtle effect.  The wall paper fashions a fairly rudimentary 3-D box pattern similar the 3-D boxes found in an early video game, Qbert, but spread out throughout the sheet of wall paper. Before you get excited, it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to put it in the game room yet. The wall paper is available in five patterns and costs $3000 per sheet, according to Metropolis magazine.

In an interview with Metropolis magazine, Maurer said that feels LEDs are best suited for small, hidden light sources, technical applications, and, surprisingly, wallpaper.  After putting wall paper idea on the back burner for more than a decade, his Munich studio has been working on wall paper actively for about five years.  Maurer thinks that he came up with the solution for mass production in collaboration with the German company Architects Paper.

Maurer told Metropolis that he couldn’t be happier with the look and feel of the wall paper filling a room with thousands of the tiny red, blue, and white lights placed along the lines of an enormous, flexible circuit board printed onto the paper. “For many years, I’ve been a big fan of the aesthetic of circuit boards,” he told Metropolis. “And on the wallpaper, I used that aesthetic. First of all, because we needed it. And second of all, because it looks magnificent. It really looks magnificent.”

Further Reading:

Metropolis, Patterns of Light: Five years in the making, Ingo Maurer’s wallpaper is a surprising application of LED technology, http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20120720/patterns-of-light

Mashable, LED Wallpaper Is a Nerd’s Ultimate Nightlight, http://mashable.com/2012/08/06/led-wallpaper/

SmartPlanet.com, LED wallpaper illuminates the technology’s role in design, http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/led-wallpaper-illuminates-the-technologys-role-in-design/8555?tag=main

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LEDs Break into Fashion and Wearable Tech

ABC's Modern Family featured LED wedding fashions this season.

Who says we can’t all dress like stars?  The Hollywood kind AND the light up kind in the sky.  While Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and other stars have been dressing with custom-made LED-studded gowns and costumes, designers are finally beginning to integrate wearable LEDs into ready-to-wear fashion.  Anne Eisenberg recently wrote an article in The New York Times about how designers are beginning to offer LEDs integrated into t-shirts, coats, handbags and jewelry.

Using conductive thread, sensors, batteries and small microprocessors, designers are bringing light to their designs.  According to Eisenberg, the German fashion label Moon Berlin recently opened an online shop that sells chiffon dresses and accessories like brooches with white LEDs.  The label plans on selling men’s dinner jackets with LEDs soon.  That’s sure to brighten up a prom like a recent episode of Modern Family where everyone in a wedding was dressed in LED-studded wedding attire.

While they may look cool, the wearable LEDs integrated with tiny computers may bring new functionality to clothing. Eisenberg mentioned that a tech company, Adafruit, is now working on wearable computers based on their Flora platform.  Using a Flora kit, you can make a handbag that includes a special GPS senor linked to an LED display.  This will eliminate the need to take out your cell phone or GPS device for directions.  The company is also offering apps for iPads, iPhones and Android devices that can link up to t-shirts that include LEDs that would glow red for poor air quality and with a Bluetooth connection tweet the information to other joggers.

For Further Reading:

The New York Times, Which Way to the Ball I’ll Ask My Gown, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/business/wearable-electronics-are-making-a-statement-novelties.html

Moon Berlin, http://moon-berlin.com/

Modern Family, http://abc.go.com/shows/modern-family/episode-detail/little-bo-bleep/916288