Sapphire Industry Watch – September 26

  • 2015 Super Bowl to Be Played under LED Lights – High performance LED stadium lights have been installed in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, making this facility the first NFL venue to illuminate the playing surface exclusively with LED lighting. The stadium serves as the home field for the Arizona Cardinals and will be the site of the 2015 Super Bowl.
  • Lexus designs a brighter future for its NX300h with LED technology – Easier cars: Both the exterior lights and the lighting in the cabin of the new Lexus NX 300h crossover make extensive use of LEDs to improve safety, visibility and perceived quality. Among other places on the car, LEDs are used on the low-beam headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights and rear lamp clusters.
  • LEDs Are An Important Climate Change Solution – Huffington Post: One of the most promising and affordable technologies that will help save energy, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and start to reverse climate change is LED light bulbs. LEDs offer big benefits for people, the planet and our pocketbooks. LED bulbs are quickly building momentum as the most innovative and long lasting alternative to incandescent bulbs.
  • Glowing LED Hammocks for Adults to Play in Boston – psfk: An interactive playground in Boston called Swing Times features 20 illuminated swings that glow purple when they are in motion. Each glowing swing is built with an internal LED lighting that is controlled by a custom microcontroller. The elements of the LED swings allow people to interact with the environment and other people on the swings.
  • Wembley’s iconic arch to light up when goals are scored – The Guardian: The iconic arch at Wembley Stadium in London will be illuminated by LED lighting which will react to goals scored and crowd noises during games. The system is made up of 228 large-scale LED floodlights, said to create millions of color combinations, and will be up and running by 2015.

The Evolution of the Efficiency of the Light Bulb

On January 1, 2014, the classic 60-watt incandescent light bulb was banned in the United States forever.

Along with the U.S., governments across the world have developed and passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives. Led originally by Brazil and Venezuela in 2005, these phase-out regulations have effectively banned the manufacturing, importation and sale of incandescent light bulbs for lighting purposes. The regulations will only allow future incandescent bulbs to be sold if they meet specific energy efficiency criteria.

The classic light bulb was abolished in an effort to transition the U.S. to new and more efficient lighting technologies-known as light-emitting diodes (LEDs)-for the benefit of nationwide energy savings.

Following the incandescent bulb ban, compact fluorescent light bulbs and LEDs became the most popular alternatives. CFLs are the size of a standard bulb but have spindly, spiraling fluorescent tubes in place of filament. For their time, fluorescent light bulbs were a big step forward in terms of efficiency; however, nowadays LEDs surpass CFLs across all categories.

The chart below sheds some light on the evolution of the efficiency of the light bulb.

Incandescents vs. CFLs vs. LEDs

Adapted from: comp chart.html

While prices on LED bulbs can vary widely from state to state, most coming to market these days are approximately $10. While this may sound expensive, LEDs make up the difference through energy cost savings and longevity.

As you can see, LEDs can last over six times longer than CFLs-with a calculated life span of 23 years if the bulb is on three hours per day-and the annual operating cost of an LED is less than half of that of a CFL. Since the lighting in our homes accounts for about one-quarter of our electricity bills, LEDs are the best way to save yourself some money in the long run.

Major cities across the country are receiving LED lighting upgrades and experiencing the economic and environmental benefits. As prices continue to fall, the adoptions and applications of LEDs are seemingly limitless.

Sapphire Industry Watch – September 19

  • Lettuce, From a Skyscraper Near You – Earth Island Journal: Over the past ten years, enclosed vertical farms have appeared all over the world, from Singapore, to Japan, to the United States. One of the main benefits of these indoor farms is they fill the gaps in local food production since they allow for the production of food just about anywhere. According to the Association for Vertical Farming, indoor farms require 98 percent less water than traditional farms and with recent advances in LED technologies, energy-savings are becoming substantial.
  • Trends in Business LED Lighting – Clean Techies: U.S. Department of Energy statistics show that about 49 million LEDs were installed in the U.S. in 2012 which led to savings of approximately $675 million in annual energy costs. Given these statistics, what can we expect out of LEDs in the future? As LEDs have gained traction as a highly effective and beneficial way of lighting spaces, we can anticipate seeing lower prices, more lighting controls, the ability to adjust color temperature and more outdoor and overhead applications of LEDs.
  • Rubicon Technology (RBCN) CEO to Step Down – Rubicon announced on September 17 that Raja Parvez will step down as Chief Executive Officer and current CFO William Weissman will serve as interim CEO until a permanent CEO is appointed. Parvez has played a leadership role at Rubicon since 2006 and has been key to the company’s vertical integration strategy as well as market-leading product innovation.
  •  No sapphire on your new iPhone? China’s Huawei has you covered – Reuters: Though Apple may have disappointed consumers by not putting sapphire on its new iPhone, the material has already made its way on to other mobile devices. Last week, China’s Huawei Technologies was the first major handset maker to announce the use of sapphire screen covers. Rubicon CFO Bill Weisman noted that all smartphone manufacturers have been meeting with all major sapphire producers.
  • Follow the light: LED-lit displays boost candy sales, claims Mars – Addressing a problem identified in a 2012 Envirosell study that found 59% of shoppers did not consider checkout purchases because they didn’t notice anything, Mars Chocolate North America and Wrigley have introduced cash counter racks illuminated with LED lighting. The companies claim this can increase front end confectionary sales by 10-12% as the new LED racks attract more attention.

Sapphire Industry Watch – September 12

  • The Truth About Sapphire, The Insanely Hard Material Apple May Use For The iPhone 6 Screen – Business Insider: As rumors continued to spread before the announcement regarding the face plate of Apple’s iPhone 6, Rubicon CFO Bill Weissman sat down with Business Insider to explain the realities behind a sapphire screen. A sapphire screen is one of the hardest materials on the planet- making it more scratch resistant than the currently-used Gorilla Glass- but is not completely damage proof. But despite some disadvantages, it is likely many smartphones will use sapphire covers in the future.
  • Apple Doubles Down On Sapphire; Will iPhone Get A Glittering Upgrade? – San Jose Mercury News: Before Apple’s smartphone announcement, analysts were buzzing about sapphire. Apple invested heavily in sapphire production, sparking rumors that the smartphone giant will be including the durable material in more than just the home button and lens, where they have used sapphire in their past designs. Analysts highlighted sapphire’s hardness, second only to diamond, but also its sensitivity to touch, making the screens easier to navigate for users. The increased density would also allow Apple to create a thinner screen, keeping smartphone competitors on their toes.
  • Why The iPhone 6 Isn’t Rocking a Sapphire Crystal Display – CNET: The climactic reveal at Apple’s Sept. 9 event lacked one much-anticipated and talked-about feature: a sapphire crystal display on the iPhone 6 and 6 plus. Sapphire made its way into the new Apple Watch as a display cover, but the use is far smaller in size than it would have been in the smartphones. Rubicon CFO Bill Weissman acknowledges that the cost of sapphire is one of the hurdles to its broader adoption.
  • Apple Watch With Sapphire Glass Launched By Tim Cook – Bloomberg TV: During Apple’s product announcement on September 9, reporters cheered for the much-anticipated announcement of a wearable device. Apple delivered, announcing the Apple Watch, a smart wearable device with sapphire glass plates on the front and back of the watch. The sapphire is more durable than Corning Gorilla Glass used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. The Apple Watch includes a fitness tracker, heart rate monitor and various other personalized features and will be on sale in early 2015.
  • Intel Reveals MICA, Its First Luxury Smart Bracelet – CNET: Intel beat Apple to the market with its own luxury smart bracelet released September 3. MICA, or My Intelligent Communication Accessory, features a curved sapphire touchscreen display as part of its high-end fashion design. The device will provide alerts and notifications, including SMS messages, calendar reminders and meeting alerts directly to the wrist display and will come in two styles. The device is part of a partnership between Intel, Opening Ceremony and Barneys that was announced in January, as part of Intel’s push into the wearables market.
  • Small Towns USA Get On LED Bandwagon – Sustainable Business: Some of the biggest cities are saving millions of dollars by switching streetlights to efficient LED bulbs and smaller communities are following suit. Twenty-five communities in the Kansas/Missouri area with less than 35,000 people each have switched to ultra-efficient LED lighting, saving a combined $25 million over the past three years. The transition is part of the “Smart Lights for Smart Cities” program initiated by the Mid-America Regional Council with the prime objective to decrease emissions.

Forget Playing Under the Lights, LEDs Let You Play on Top of Them

You would think that there is little in the world of basketball that could leave Kobe Bryant speechless. The Mamba has seen his fair share of amazing plays, arenas and players, so it would be safe to say that much on the basketball court doesn’t impress him.

That all changed when he caught a glimpse of the new LED basketball court at the “House of Mamba” in Shanghai.

The court — created by Nike — has LEDs and sensors built into the floor that allow for it to change its display, markings and images almost instantly. While it can display a classic basketball court layout, the real value for the court comes from the fact that it can be programmed to show a variety of training drills and exercises. Athletes can follow lights and lines to practice footwork drills, all while the sensors in the floor track their time and progress, and then display the players’ time.

The “House of Mamba” was built as a part of Nike’s Rise campaign, a competition to find China’s best young basketball players, with the top three moving on to the Nike World Basketball Festival in Barcelona. Thirty players were brought in to run through a variety of drills based on Kobe’s own training regimen.

This basketball court not only represents the future of high-end athletic training, but also makes us think about how LEDs can affect athletics in the future. From the instant ability to change the floor lines in multipurpose rooms depending on the sport being played, to sensors and lights that track faults and out-of-bounds in sports like tennis and volleyball, LEDs will provide tremendous value for both amateur and professional athletes alike.

“LEDs are giving us the ability to do creative things that were never done, or even imagined, before with traditional lighting products,” said Jed Dorsheimer, Managing Director at Equity Research. “The use of LEDs in basketball courts is just one more example of how solid-state lighting is breaking from the mold of how lighting can be used. With the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs and the new creative uses for LEDs, the solid-state lighting market has the potential to be much larger than the traditional lighting market.”

Check out the video of Nike’s “House of Mamba” LED basketball court, and let us know in the comments what you think the future of LEDs in sports will be.


Sapphire Industry Watch – August 29

  • Saving Marine Life With LED Fishing Nets – LED Inside: Globally, about 40 percent of marine life that winds up in a fishing net goes wasted or unmanaged. In anattempt to preserve the delicate marine ecosystem and save endangered marine species, a British designer has come up with LED fish nets. The LEDs are included in large light hoops positioned throughout the netting that alert smaller fish and allow unwanted fish to escape. The LED hoops can operate at different wavelengths, saving sea turtles and hammerhead sharks, as well as bottom-dwelling ocean species.
  • Huawei Confirms Sapphire Display Huawei Ascend P7 On The Way To Market – Talk Android: Huawei Device Chairman and Consumer BG CEO Yu Chengdong followed up on promises of a sapphire screen on a variant of the Ascend P7 by posting a new image of the smartphone and confirming the use of sapphire in the faceplate. With rumors of other major players using sapphire in smartphones, Huawei may reveal the new variant officially at IFA 2014 next week to get a leg up on other companies by being the first to market with a sapphire display.
  • Bright Lights, Affordable Motor: Ford Puts LED Headlights Onto Mondeo – The Register: The Ford Mondeo is the Ford’s first vehiclewith dynamic LED headlights that last for the lifetime of the vehicle and provide as much light as previously used Xenon bulbs. Because the LED bulbs are so much smaller than traditional headlights, the design of the Mondeo allows for more creative liberty in the front of the vehicle. Smaller diodes can also be arranged in patterns and controlled individually for special lighting effects, such as indicator lights flashing in sequence to alert fellow drivers of a lane change.
  • All Streetlights In India To Change To LED Lights – The Times Of India: The Union ministry of urban development in India has mandated that all street lighting in the country be converted to LED technology, saving more than 5,000 MW of electricity consumption over three years. The 27.5 million street lights will be phased from the haphazard original installation to LED technology by Energy Efficient Services Limited.
  • ‘Smart’ Lighting System Provides Surveillance At U.S. Airport – CBC News: Newark Liberty International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country, and now has one of the most advanced surveillance systems. The LED lighting within the airport contains 171 “smart” lighting fixtures that have computing and networking capabilities and feeds data into connected cameras and sensors. The LED fixtures act as semiconductors, and effectively create a network similar to a personal computer from which authorities can monitor everything from license plate numbers to unattended baggage.
  • Apple Sent Out Invitations For The September 9 iPhone 6 Event – Business Insider: Amid sapphire screen rumors, design photo leaks and iWatch madness, Apple officially confirmed a product launch event for September 9 at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Re/Code reported the iWatch will be debuted at this launch, as well as the unveiling of the iPhone 6 in two sizes. The invitation to the press included the date of the launch, and the phrase “Wish we could say more.”