Street Lights of the Future that Can Fight Crime

Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park (credit: John Bamber)

Street lights in Chattanooga, Tennessee are very smart and they can fight crime too.  A Chattanooga company, Global Green Lighting, has developed the smart street light of the future.  As described in a profile in The Atlantic Cities magazine, the city of Chattanooga was having gang problems in Coolidge Park, one of their city parks. The situation got so bad in 2011 that the city was facing a decision to close the park at dusk or light the park with gigantic flood lights for safety.  Along came Global Green Lighting to save the day!

Global Green Lighting installed a new smart LED lighting system in Coolidge Park.  Not only does the new LED lighting system provide better, less expensive lighting for the park, but the new wirelessly enabled LED lighting system offers the city the ability to work smarter.  Each light can be controlled specifically to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn. Each light also can turn into a crime fighting tool like a search light or brighten to illuminate a crime scene or trail a suspect as he or she sprints down a road.  While park goers can’t activate the changes in the LED lighting, the lights can be controlled right from a police cruiser on site.

The LED lighting system also brings other advantages for the city.  They can flash warning signals in emergencies like weather alerts. Further, they’ll be wired into the city’s power system and broadband network so the city can plug in devices like air quality sensors, video cameras, or WiFi routers.

After a successful test of 350 lights last year, Chattanooga worked with Global Green Lighting to replace the city’s 26,500 streetlamps at a cost of $18.1 million.  The city estimates that the new lights will save $2.7 million each year when the project is completed in late 2013 and the system will pay for itself within seven years. Further, the system is so smart that it will alert the city when one of the LED lights is having a maintenance issue, letting them know which one needs service.

For Further Reading

Global Green Lighting, www.globalgreenlighting.com

The Atlantic Cities, The Streetlight of the Future Will Do So Much More Than Light Your Street, http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2013/03/streetlight-future-will-do-so-much-more-light-your-street/4958/

BusinessWeek, Chattanooga’s Radio-Operated Streetlamps, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-10/chattanoogas-radio-operated-streetlamps

 

The Bay Bridge – LED Light Art Beacons

“The Bay Lights” on the Bay Bridge that crosses San Francisco Bay from San Francisco to Oakland.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Bay Bridge, the city of San Francisco and non-profit Illuminate the Arts unveiled a new light exhibition, The Bay Lights, a 1.8 mile-long installation of 25,000 white LED lights along the West Span of the bridge that spans San Francisco Bay from San Francisco to Oakland.  The LED lights are on from dusk until 2:00 a.m. for the length of the two year exhibition.

The project was created by world renowned light artist Leo Villareal.  Known internationally for his light sculptures and site-specific architectural work, Villareal’s art is in permanent collections of prestigious museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan.

According to Villareal in LEDs Magazine, “This isn’t about just lighting another bridge with white or colored light. The Bay Lights emphasizes the use of intelligent lighting, fully utilizing individual control and the ability to create 255 levels of brightness per node.”

The project uses Philips Color Kinetics eW Flex SLX product in a 4200K CCT. These LEDs are made up of flexible strings of individually controllable white LED nodes that are attached at 1-ft intervals on the suspension cables. Each cable features LEDs that light up in specially programmed patterns including animations moving across the span, multi-dimensional waves of movement, and light-level changes for impact.

For the energy conscious, The Bay Lights is estimated to cost $11,000 in energy a year. The Bay Lights organizers believe that the project will bring upwards of $100 million to San Francisco in tourism revenue.  While not visible to travelers on the bridge itself, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee believes that an estimated 50 million people in San Francisco and the North and East Bay will eventually see the lights.

For Further Reading

The Bay Lights, http://thebaylights.org/

San Francisco Examiner, Leo Villareal’s ‘Bay Lights’ set to sparkle Bay Bridge for next few years, http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2013/03/leo-villareals-bay-lights-set-sparkle-bay-bridge-next-few-years#ixzz2NWm7XSqB

LEDs Magazine, Philips LEDs convert Bay Bridge to light sculpture, http://ledsmagazine.com/news/10/3/6

 

Tipping Point 2: Finally, A Sub $10 LED Light Bulb

Cree’s new sub-$10, 40-watt equivalent LED light bulb

This past week, Cree introduced a brand new 40W LED light bulb that will be available at Home Depot for less than $10. The $10 mark is very important.  As we mentioned in the blog before, the $10 mark is the tipping point where many analysts and vendors believe mass adoption will occur.  According to analysts at IMS, “It’s not just the psychological impact (i.e. $9.99 vs. $10.00); it also just happens that this is around the point where the payback arguments make sense.”

Cree agrees. “The Cree LED light bulb was designed to offer consumers a no-compromise lighting experience at a compelling price,” said Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and CEO.  “Over the last couple of years we recognized that the consumer is instrumental in the adoption of LED lighting, but we needed to give them a reason to switch. We believe this breakthrough LED bulb will, for the first time, give consumers a reason to upgrade the billions of energy-wasting light bulbs.”

According to Cree, Cree LED bulbs save 84 percent of energy compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs.  They have calculated that consumers can save $61 per year on electric bills by replacing incandescent bulbs with Cree LED bulbs in a home’s five most frequently used light fixtures. Their calculations are based on Cree LED bulb 60W replacements at 9.5 watt, $0.11 per kilowatt-hour, 25,000 hour lifetime and average usage of 6 hours per day.

In addition to the new $10 LED light bulb, Cree will have two other light bulbs available exclusively at The Home Depot. Here are details about all three:

  • $9.97, a “warm white” 40-watt equivalent, with 450 lumens of light for 6W of electricity
  • $12.97, a “warm white” 60-watt equivalent, providing 800 lumens of light for 9.5W of electricity
  • $13.97, a “day light” 60-watt equivalent, with 800 lumens of light at a cost of 9W of electricity

Consumer Reports announced that they’ll be putting Cree’s LED light bulbs through the test. We’ll keep you posted on their testing in Clearlysapphire.com.

Further Reading

Cree, Cree Introduces The Biggest Thing Since the Light Bulb™, http://www.cree.com/news-and-events/cree-news/press-releases/2013/march/bulbs

Consumer Reports, LED prices drop as competition heats up, http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2013/03/led-prices-drop-as-competition-suddenly-heats-up.html

MIT Technology Review, Once-Pricey LED Bulbs to Dip Under $10, http://www.technologyreview.com/view/512236/once-pricey-led-bulbs-to-dip-under-10/

The Verge, Cree’s $13 LED light bulb is the best yet, looks and feels incandescent (hands-on), http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/5/4068174/cree-10-dollar-led-light-bulb-incandescent

Clearlysapphire.com, Tipping Point: Earth Day, 100W Light Bulb Reprieve and Alexander Hamilton, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=169

IMS Research, DOES LED LIGHTING HAVE A TIPPING POINT?, http://www.ledmarketresearch.com/blog/Does_LED_Lighting_Have_A_Tipping_Point_270

LTE and the Benefits of Silicon-on-Sapphire

Apple’s iPhone 5 is driving LTE use in the US.

LTE, the next generation wireless communications standard, is making headlines as adoption of mobile devices using LTE picks up.  Deloitte expects nearly 200 million subscribers to migrate to LTE devices by the end of 2013.  Silicon-on-sapphire is playing an important role in the development of devices that operate using LTE.  Peregrine Semiconductor’s Rodd Novack outlined the benefits of silicon-on-sapphire in a recent article in Compound Semiconductor Magazine.

According to Novack, LTE brings technological challenges that impact the RF front end (RFFE) components in wireless devices such as power amplifiers, filters, antennas and switches.  Silicon-on-sapphire, a specific type of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, offers RFFE components scalable integration, consistent performance and the benefits of CMOS, the most widely used semiconductor technology. Silicon-on-sapphire wafers consist of the formation of a thin layer of silicon on a sapphire wafer at high temperature.  Novack says that sapphire, a near perfect insulator, eliminates nearly all of the parasitic capacitance and leakage currents.

The main challenge for the RFFE components is higher linearity.  Sapphire, as an insulating substrate, provides better isolation between circuit elements. In contrast, silicon by itself requires a capacitor to be charged and discharged with every cycle, meaning silicon behaves in a non-linear manner.  However, sapphire provides the linearity LTE needs with its insulator properties.

The RF interference is an important issue with LTE as worldwide deployment is scattered among a range of frequency bands from 699 MHz to 2690 MHz.  This is further compounded by multiple radios in today’s handsets.  As a result, users experience slower data rates and increased dropped calls.  LTE’s linearity performance requirements demand increasingly complex antenna switches which silicon-on-sapphire accommodates easily.

Sapphire improves transistor performance as well as enables high isolation between circuit elements allowing digital and analog blocks to sit next to high-power RF signals according to Novack.  It also enables integration of RF, analog, passive and digital circuitry on one die.  This enables smaller and smaller die and fewer external components.  Novack notes that a smaller switch size is “highly valued, because it can lead to a smaller overall RFFE with greater design and layout flexibility, and fewer external components.”  Eventually, it is thought that silicon on sapphire will enable to System on a Chip (SOC) configurations for smart phones and other electronic devices.

Focus on LTE

LTE (Long Term Evolution or 4G) is the next generation in wireless network technology and successor to 3G.  LTE is significant because it will provide significantly faster data rates for both uploading and downloading for mobile devices.

LTE is seen as the next advance in wireless networks as smart phones, tablets and other wireless devices require more bandwidth for faster data and content downloads. Smart phones, like the iPhone 5, are expected to drive the adoption of LTE.

For Further Reading

Compound Semiconductor Magazine, Silicon-On-Sapphire; Rising Value In Next-Generation Wireless Networks, http://www.compoundsemiconductor.net/csc/features-details/19736047/Silicon-on-sapphire;-rising-value-in-next-generation-wireless-network.html

Deloitte, A strong year for LTE adoption, http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GX/global/industries/technology-media-telecommunications/tmt-predictions-2013/tmt-predictions-2013-telecommunications/77ca7f7d2c1eb310VgnVCM2000003356f70aRCRD.htm (link to article and video)

Peregrine Semiconductor, The History of Silicon-on-Sapphire, http://www.psemi.com/articles/History_SOS_73-0020-02.pdf