Patriotic LEDs make holiday shine brighter

From the sun-kissed shores of the Golden State to historic harbors along the tip of Maine, skylines from sea to shining sea will proudly be glowing red, white and blue this weekend.

As Americans prepare to celebrate the day that marked their independence with barbecues, parades and pool parties, here’s a preview of the most spectacular patriotic fireworks and LED light shows the nation can expect to see on Saturday night.

Empire State Building — New York City, New York ESB

Since its LED makeover in late 2012, the lights on top of New York’s most iconic building have complemented Macy’s legendary Fourth of July fireworks production. Dancing, fluttering, sparkling and moving in endless combinations to classics like Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, the LEDs are timed to mirror the grand finale of the fantastic explosions that take place over the Hudson River.

Aside from Independence Day, the Empire State Building illuminates for several other special events and national holidays throughout the year, including pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and green for St. Patrick’s Day. The Fourth of July collaboration with Macy’s, however, is by far the 102-story building’s biggest, most visible display yet.

Boston Pops — Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Pops

As is annual tradition, the Boston Pops Orchestra will perform a free concert at the Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts, this July 4th. Each year, the show draws more than a half-million people to the patriotically lit Hatch Shell and is broadcast live on Boston’s local TV station, WBZ-TV.

Specializing in light classical music, the Boston Pops performs delightful tunes that help build anticipation for the city’s awe-inspiring fireworks choreography over the banks of the Charles River.

Walt Disney World— Orlando, Florida 

Castle

On July 3rd as well as the 4th, the Magic Kingdom theme park at Disney World will celebrate the traditions, spirit and music of the United States with a special 15-minute fireworks show and whimsical light display of the American flag on the iconic Disney castle. Using all perimeter firework sites, the show gives a 360-degree effect from inside the park while more than 1,500 shells will be launched.

When paired with spectacular aerial fireworks displays such as these in New York City, Boston and Orlando, the brightness and colors of LED lights help make special holidays shine that much brighter.

Happy Fourth of July from Rubicon Technology! 

 

FIFA World Cup: LEDs Celebrate Soccer

Iconic Christ the Redeemer statue lit up in LEDs to celebrate the FIFA World Cup in Brazil

Iconic Christ the Redeemer statue lit up in LEDs to celebrate the FIFA World Cup in Brazil

While the glitz and glamour of FIFA World Cup soccer remains on the field, others in Brazil are turning to LEDs to celebrate the tournament with light.  Even Brazil’s iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue is taking a role in the FIFA World Cup. The monument will be lit up with the colors of each country’s flag. This is possible due to a recent LED lighting retrofit of the popular tourist destination Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Completed in 1931, the famous statue had an LED light retrofit for its 80th birthday in 2011. Lighting company Osram replaced the outdated lighting system with 300 advanced LED projectors (from subsidiary Traxon Technologies).  These high-output spotlights are fitted with a special lens to precisely light the statue in alternating colors and different light intensities.

A special “Lighting Control Engine” aims each LED projector to light a particular part of the statue. The lighting can be programmed and controlled remotely providing energy efficient atmospheric lighting for the monument. The new lighting system saves time and resources for the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.

For Further Reading & Viewing

The Guardian, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer lit up in celebration of the World Cup – video, http://www.theguardian.com/football/video/2014/jun/12/rio-de-janeiro-christ-the-redeemer-lit-up-celebration-world-cup-video

NLB, Christ the Redeemer Monument in Rio de Janeiro Bathed in a New Light, http://www.nlb.org/index.cfm?cdid=10779&pid=10634

NDTV Sports, FIFA World Cup 2014 Opening Ceremony, Highlights: J-Lo, Pitbull Kick Off Biggest Mega-Event in Sao Paulo, http://sports.ndtv.com/fifa-world-cup-2014/news/225479-live-blog-fifa-world-cup-2014-opening-ceremony

ECD Solutions, Brazil’s football stadiums install LED lights ahead of summer tournament, http://www.electricalsolutions.net.au/case_studies/67109-Brazil-39-s-football-stadiums-install-LED-lights-ahead-of-summer-tournament

Schreder, SCHRÉDER, PARTNER FOR LIGHTING THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP STADIA IN BRAZIL, http://www.schreder.com/be-en/News/Pages/Schreder-partner-for-lighting-2014-FIFA-World-Cup-Stadia-in-Brazil.aspx

 

 

 

Cities Worldwide Tap LEDs to Make Skylines Sparkle

The world’s skylines are changing. They’re no longer bathed in white light or neon. Thanks to new programmable LEDs, today’s city skylines are transformed into rainbows of light promoting good causes, events and company brands in every color imaginable that can change nightly.

But first let’s take a look at how lighting in cities got its start. Skylines and exhibitions played an early role in promoting lighting. Perhaps one of the most notable points in the history of lighting is the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 set the stage for promoting the wonder of electric lighting. In fact it was a big part in the race to light the world between Westinghouse backing Nicola Tesla (inventor of alternating current) and General Electric, owned by JP Morgan and Thomas Edison (inventor of light bulbs and direct current).

Westinghouse outbid Edison for the contract to light and power the fair. More than 200,000 white incandescent bulbs, using Tesla’s polyphase alternating current system, amazed crowds as they lit up the world’s fair at night. How did they beat out Edison? They under-bid Edison and GE banned them from using Edison light bulbs in retaliation for losing the bid. To light the fair, Westinghouse and Tesla sidestepped Edison’s light bulb patents with a new double stopper light bulb.

Here’s a photo from the Chicago World’s Fair at night. Just imagine how impressive this display of light must have been to a population used to gas lights and candles.

Chicago World's Fair 1893

Chicago World’s Fair 1893

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to today. LED lighting systems have given rise to a whole new look to a city skyline. Here are a few of the more colorful city skylines bathed in LED lighting.

New York, New York

New York City Skyline

New York City Skyline

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong Skyline

Chicago, IL

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline bathed in pink for Breast Cancer Month

Dubai

Dubai Skyline

Dubai Skyline

For Further Reading

NY Post, City’s towers in LED arms race to get brightest spot in skyline, http://nypost.com/2014/03/23/citys-towers-in-led-arms-race-to-get-brightest-spot-in-skyline/

City Lab, How LEDs Have Transformed the City Skyline, http://www.citylab.com/design/2013/07/how-leds-have-transformed-city-skyline/6382/

NY Post, High-tech LEDs turning NYC skyline into a lightshow, http://nypost.com/2014/01/15/high-tech-leds-turning-nyc-skyline-into-a-lightshow/

 

Shining Bright: Holiday LED Lighting 2013

‘Tis the season for LED holiday displays. Here’s a round-up of some rather interesting displays in 2013.

Rockefeller Center, New York, New York

This world famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a 75-year-old Norway spruce, is illuminated by 45,000 rainbow LEDs and features a 550 lb., 9.5-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star on top.

Rock Center xmas 2013 2

 

 

 

 

 

The National Christmas Tree, Washington, DC

GE provided the design and lights for the National Christmas Tree for the 51st time this year. This year’s tree features 110 LED net lights and 225 LED string sets – all Energy Star® qualified, and 265 LED spherical ornaments. The total wattage is about 5700 watts – saving 80% energy as compared to incandescent holiday lights.  That’s equal to saving one ton of coal, and nearly a 5700-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

National Xmas Tree 2013

 

 

 

 

Trafalgar Square, London, England 2013

Each year since 1947 Norway’s capital city Oslo has donated Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square, to thank Britain for its support during World War II.  The tree stands 20 meters tall and features about 900 LED lights.

Trafalgar Square 2013 Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Sponsored by Bradesco Seguros, this Rio tree is the largest floating Christmas tree in the world. Towering 85 meters into the sky, the tree floats slowly around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) throughout the holiday season.  It features over three million microlights, two thousand strobe effects, one hundred meters of hoses and one hundred LED reflectors.

Rio X mas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Delray Beach, Florida

The 100-foot tall Christmas tree is festively illuminated with over 15,000 LED lights, carefully decorated with 39,000 ornaments, and contains 3000 branches.

Del Ray Beach 100 Ft Christmas Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan

The Caretta Shiodome, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, located in the elegant 51-story Dentsu Building, hosts the “White X’mas in the Sea” featuring a vast ocean of LED lights and an illuminated, animated display on the walls of the shopping center.  The light show incorporates interactive 3D projection mapping, allowing visitors to influence the appearance of the video sections of the illumination and the rhythm of the soundtrack by clapping their hands.  Here’s a link to a video showing how the display was put together as well as its premier complete with school kids clapping.

Tokyo Shiodome 2013 Xmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading

Clearlysapphire.com, The Evolution of Christmas Lights – From Incandescent to LED, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=313

 

Decorating for the holidays – LED vs. Incandescent

The Griswold House from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The Griswold House from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s that time again and Christmas displays are popping up in and on homes all around the world.  As we watch retailers like Home Depot and Walmart reduce prices on LED light bulbs, the same is happening with LED Christmas lights.  So, is it time to make the switch?

Depending on your tastes, LED lighting for Christmas holiday decorating can be a quick affair with a few strings of lights on your Christmas tree or can be a large artistic expression in light on your home like you’re Clark Griswold of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

LED lighting for the holidays is safer – they’re not hot to the touch, so they won’t start a fire, especially if lit for a long period of time. They’re sturdier and made of epoxy lenses rather than plastic or glass like traditional incandescents.  They’re longer-lasting and could be in use 20 or even 40 years from now.  And they use less energy (about 80 percent) so that you can connect more strings together in series without blowing a fuse (your’s and the lights).

You might remember the moment in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold turned on the Christmas lights on his home (decorated with 25,000 incandescent imported Italian twinkle lights) and caused a major power outage in the city of Chicago.  While you might not take out your local power grid, you might be concerned with your electric bill if you tend to decorate like a Griswold.  You may want to consider some information that the US Department of Energy put together information about energy requirements of Christmas lighting.

According to the DOE, it can cost up to $10 to light a six-foot tree, 12 hours a day for 40 days using large C-9 incandescent lights while incandescent mini-lights would cost about $2.72.  LEDs on the other hand would cost 27 cents or 82 cents respectively to light that same tree for the same period of time.  Over a decade, it could be quite costly to stick with incandescents.  The DOE table is below.

Retailers are bringing more LED Christmas lights to consumers.  According to a recent article in the Kansas City Star newspaper, Walmart dedicated half of its shelf space to LEDs. Costs are coming down from $5 for a string of 50 mini LED lights, down from $6.30 last year.  In fact, Costco won’t sell incandescent Christmas lights in 2013.  General Electric, selling holiday lights since 1903, anticipates that two out of every five strings of lights sold this year will be LEDs.

So, it may be time to ditch the old fashioned Christmas lights for some new LEDs.  And for a laugh and some holiday cheer, watch Christmas Vacation or this clip from the movie where the Griswold’s incandescent Christmas lights take down the Chicago power grid.

US DOE Christmas Light Info

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights $10.00
LED C-9 lights $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $2.74
LED Mini-lights $0.82

 

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

For Further Reading & Viewing

Kansas City Star, Christmas lights are going green, http://www.kansascity.com/2013/11/10/4612642/christmas-lights-are-going-green.html

Energy Manager Today, LEDs Lead the Way for Holiday Lights

http://www.energymanagertoday.com/leds-lead-the-way-for-holiday-lights-096959/

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Griswold Home Power Outage Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWKw8nqQlI

US DOE Info:  http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/led-lighting

LEDs in Action – Performance Art and Fish Bellies

Now that the summer is nearly over (in the US), we thought we might take a look at some fun applications of LEDs including performance art, art turned into football replays, and fish bellies.

Eugene, Oregon-based fiber optic toy company Ants On A Melon, has turned LEDs into performance art. Founded in 2012, the folks at Ants On A Melon have developed an artistic platform designed to share interactive fiber optic artwork.  Their LED performance art using jellyfish is just one example of what they can do with LEDs. You can see a video of the Jellyfish (pictured below) here.

Ants On A Melon, Jellyfish, Performance Art

Ants On A Melon, Jellyfish, Performance Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dallas Cowboys new stadium, AT&T Stadium, is filled with art, including a new LED-based exhibit by LED artist Jim Campbell, “Exploded View (Dallas Cowboys) 2013.”  Exploded View features 2880 LED’s that flicker and illustrate plays in LED lights. A renowned LED light artist, Campbell specializes in low-resolution images.  From close up, the image is completely abstract, but from far away, the football play is recognizable. While we don’t have a video of this artwork, here’s a link to a video of Campbell’s Exploded View, Commuters.

Campbell’s artwork is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Jim Campbell's Exploded View, Dallas Cowboys

Jim Campbell’s Exploded View, Dallas Cowboys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While not performance art, the new LED art exhibit at Texas State University, San Marcos River in San Marcos, Texas, by public art designers Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock encourages interaction.  Designed to celebrate the biodiversity of the San Marcos River, Fish Bellies enables students to sit inside, study or talk while touch controls allow them to adjust the color and saturation levels of the LED lighting inside.

Fish Bellies at Texas State University, San Marcos River

Fish Bellies at Texas State University, San Marcos River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading

The Dallas News, LED artist has created the 50th piece in the Cowboys Stadium collection, http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/columnists/michael-granberry/20130427-led-artist-has-created-the-50th-piece-in-the-cowboys-stadium-collection.ece

Inhabitat.com, LED Fish Bellies Celebrate Biological and Human Diversity in Texas, http://inhabitat.com/led-fish-bellies-celebrate-biological-and-human-diversity-in-texas/

LED Applications – Celebrating the Royal Birth in LEDs

London and the world celebrated the birth of the latest heir to the British throne, Prince George Alexander Louis, in style with LEDs.  A number of landmarks in London turned blue to celebrate the occasion and even a few outside of the UK turned blue in honor of the future king.  For a video, go to this BBC story.

The 600 foot tall BT Tower used more than 500K LEDs for the announcement:

royal baby BT Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The famous London Eye ferris wheel turned red, white and blue:

Royalblu_381

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fountain at Trafalgar Square marked the occasion in blue:

Trafalgar square

 

 

 

 

 

Even the London Bridge turned blue:

London Bridge in Blue

 

 

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, North America celebrated too with Niagra Falls turning blue:

Niagra Falls Blue

 

 

 

 

 

Toronto’s CN Tower:

Toronto CN Tower

 

 

 

 

 

Christchurch Airport in New Zealand turned blue too.

Christchurch Airport NZ

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Reading and Viewing

The BBC, Royal baby: London landmarks turn blue for birth, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23416932 (video)

The Daily Mail, The world turns a Royal shade of blue, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2374793/Kate-Middleton-gives-birth-Royal-baby-boy-landmarks-globe-illuminated.html