The LED Takeover

Long before Rubicon Technology was manufacturing sapphire for LEDs, it was the incandescent light bulb that illuminated our world. More than one-hundred years ago – in 1879 to be precise -Thomas Edison patented the first incandescent light bulb, igniting the lighting industry and paving the way for the ‘world after dark’ that we enjoy today.

Because of the steady warm glow they produce, incandescent bulbs were soon found to be fitting for most household applications. Fluorescent tube lights, on the other hand, were later developed to produce brighter neon light and be more efficient, making them suitable for commercial applications, such as offices, hospitals and stores.

An outgrowth of the Germans’ 19th century invention of the Geissler tube, the first real challenger to the incandescent bulb for home use, the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), hit the market in the mid-1980s. Although they were significantly more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, at a retail price of $25-$35, CFLs were also more expensive, deterring consumers at first from purchasing them.

Since the 1990s, however, improvements in CFL performance, price, efficiency and lifespan have led to a rise in their popularity – not to mention they became one of few lighting alternatives available after the phase out of the incandescent bulb began in 2014.

When it comes to which type of light bulb will reign as king in the 21st century, LEDs have undoubtedly stolen the spotlight from CFLs. In addition to being one of the fastest developing lighting technologies today, LEDs are currently the most efficient lighting source on the market.

The first visible-spectrum LEDs were invented in 1962 by Nick Holonyak in the form of red diodes. These initial LEDs first became available to the public in the form of indicator lights and calculator displays in the 1970s. The invention of the blue diode in the 1990s by American Shuji Nakamura, along with Japan’s Isamu Akasaki and Horoshi Amano, quickly led to the development of white LEDs.

Ever since the invention of the white LEDs, we have seen their use explode in a variety of applications. They are now being used in major national and international landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Sydney Opera House, transforming these buildings into energy-efficient and eco-friendly locations. In addition, LEDs have made notable appearances at major events this year all across the globe, including Super Bowl XLIX in the U.S. and Chinese New Year celebrations in both China and Malaysia.

Tower

Aside from the more conventional lighting applications, LEDs are also being utilized in the beauty and health industry. NASA developed LED facial technology that is said to plump up aging skin, boost collagen and treat acne. In Iran, LEDs are being used in the treatment of cancerous and precancerous skin lesions and could be used in the treatment of skin cancer in the future.

Facial

LEDs have the potential to affect the modern world even more than the original incandescent bulb did in the 20th century. As costs continue to fall and more out-of-the-box applications are discovered, it is clear there is no stopping LEDs from taking over the world.

Sapphire Industry Watch – January 30

  • Public servants to take power to India’s slums in international move – Canberra Times: Pollinate Energy is a social enterprise with a mission to improve the lives of India’s urban poor by providing access to sustainable technologies like solar energy and LED lights. Co-founded in 2012 by a Canberra woman, the organization has already helped more than 25,000 people in Bangalore switch to solar LED lighting in their homes.
  • The First Super Bowl Played Under LEDs will use 75 Percent Less Power– Gizmodo: Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona will be the first Super Bowl played entirely under LED lights. The switch from metal halide fixtures to high-performance LED lights will reduce overall energy consumption by 75 percent.
  • LEDs cast new light on auto design – The Detroit News: As the price of LEDs continues to decline, the technology is becoming standard on many headlamps and taillights of mainstream vehicles. Once found only on luxury vehicles, nearly all of the models showcased at the 2015 North American International Auto Show incorporated LED lighting.
  • Rubicon Technology Will Report Results of Fourth Quarter Operations on February 12, 2015 – MarketWatch: Rubicon Technology will report financial results for the fourth quarter, which ended on December 31, 2014, after the market closes on February 12, 2015. Management will host a conference call at 5:00 p.m. EST on February 12 in conjunction with the earnings release to review the financial results and an audio replay of the call will be available approximately one hour after the conclusion of the call.

Super Bowl Halftime Show Sparkles with PixMob LED Light Show

(Bruno Mars peforms during the Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J., Photograph by: Jeff Zelevansky , Getty Images)

(Bruno Mars peforms during the Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J., Photograph by: Jeff Zelevansky , Getty Images)

If you watched the recent Super Bowl, you were treated to a cool display of LED technology at half-time featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 80,000 people wearing special LED studded hats. Synced up with the music of Bruno Mars and the RHCP, the show filled the stadium with LED lights.

Montreal-based interactive lighting company, PixMob designed and built a unique light show specifically for the halftime show.  Each spectator at the game was handed a complimentary winter gift pack upon entering MetLife Stadium. Each swag bag included items to keep warm, one of the items was a special knit hat that they were asked to wear during half-time.

The stadium was filled with 500 LED panels as well as 14 PixMob transmitters that complemented the LEDs worn by the crowd. The 80,000 knit hats turned each member of the crowd into a pixel.  Each knit hat included three LEDs (for red, blue and green) and an infrared receiver. A PixMob controller directed the light patterns in real time. The receiver in each hat decoded the infrared signal depending on the location of the person wearing the hat, turning the lights red, white, green or blue to create animated effects syncing up with the show.

PixMob has done this type of show before.  They’ve tossed LED-filled beach balls onto audiences and used wristbands fitted with LEDs for unique light shows at music festivals like Coachella and for bands like Arcade Fire, Black Keys and Maroon 5.  There’s even speculation that they’ve got something up their sleeve for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

For Further Reading

USA Today, Here’s a guide to everything in the Super Bowl swag bag, http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/01/mike-francesa-super-bowl-swag-bag/

Montreal Gazette, Montreal firm PixMob turns Super Bowl crowd into human pixels, http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Montreal+firm+PixMob+turns+Super+Bowl+crowd+into+human+pixels/9460693/story.html

Wired, How 80,000 People Became a Human Video Screen at the Super Bowl, http://www.wired.com/design/2014/02/super-bowl-audience-became-human-video-screen/

Philips Lighting, Digital Lighting Makes a Splash at the Super Bowlhttp://www.lumec.com/blog/index.php/2014/02/04/digital-lighting-makes-a-splash-at-the-super-bowl/