General Lighting Future Future of technology LED

3D-Printed LED LightPaper Places Lighting on Almost Any Surface

The range of applications for 3D printing are well known, as the technology is already used creatively in foods, metals, ceramics, and even organ transplant surgeries. Even so, we’ve only begun to utilize the full capabilities of 3D printing. So what’s next? A startup company called Rohinni says, “We print light.”

A Paper-Thin LED Light

Rohinni has invented an LED light product aptly named LightPaper. It is paper-thin and can be used to print a light-up version of, well, just about anything. LightPaper is made with a mixture of ink and extremely small LEDs applied to a conductive surface and then sealed between two other thin layers. Heard of the new Oreo Thins? Well, think thinner. Within LightPaper, there are thousands of tiny diodes; each one is nearly the size of a human red blood cell and lights up when a current is run through them.


3D-Printed Light Could Change Everything

A paper-thin LED surface like LightPaper has many unique qualities. First off, it needs no batteries. Secondly, it can be made into any shape desired by designers—much like regular paper, we can mold it into whatever we want. Another couple of LightPaper perks is that it is considered eco-friendly and that it will [probably] be cheap to manufacture. I have to admit, this whole thing is pretty darn cool—I mean, imagine what we could do with 3D light-paper printers at home! (Maybe we could build the coolest collection of paper airplanes ever, that’s what.)

But I digress. Paper-thin lighting could someday replace (or enhance) fine art, television screens, window tinting, and logos on mobile devices. It may even eliminate lighting fixtures, lamps, and light bulbs—we could simply lay strips of LED paper above our couches or on our ceilings to light up our rooms. LightPaper could change how we read, and write, and advertise, and take pictures, and decorate, and customize cars, and . . . okay, okay, I’ll stop here, but the point is, the potential here is tremendous.

led-light-up-jacket-running-messages-futureUsing LightPaper Technology

Some speculate that 3D-printed light paper could be available to consumers by the end of 2015. Rohinni has said they plan to corner the commercial and industrial markets before moving elsewhere. Given LED paper’s super-lightweight quality, I would anticipate first seeing the technology applied to TVs, mobile devices, and printed media before anything else.

According to one marketing executive at Rohinni, “Anywhere there is a light, this could replace that.” He followed up with: “Everything the light light touches is our kingdom.” (Okay, that one was from The Lion King, but it’s still pretty applicable).

If they can pull this off, Rohinni and LED paper can really change the lighting industry. As technology improves, companies like Rohinni will hopefully find ways to get their paper into homes, supermarkets, and—as they mentioned—anywhere there is light.

Would you use LightPaper in your home? Where would you put it? Share some ideas with me below (I might throw a few your way, too)!

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General Lighting Future of technology LED wireless technology

LEDs in Cars Will Communicate via the LiFi Lighting Network

Usually, when I talk about LED light bulbs, I focus on their luminary benefitshow they offer some of the most natural and most energy-efficient lighting solutions available today. However, I sometimes overlook the totally geek-out-worthy fact that LEDs are able to serve as communication points, too.

But . . . who cares?

I’m so glad you asked! One of the reasons this is so exciting for me (and you), is that LEDsinstalled in streetlights, vehicle headlights, and street signscould someday create an interactive and real-time network of devices that tells drivers everything they could need to know before (and during) their time on the road. LEDs will no longer just improve visibility for drivers at night; they may also improve driver safety with their network capabilities.


Cars Connect Through LED Lights

Automobiles can now be fitted with LED headlights instead of traditional halogen lights. As I’ve discussed in past articles, LEDs can allow for wireless communication via LiFi (not to be confused with WiFi). LiFi uses the visible light spectrum (VLC) to transmit data, transforming LED light into a sort of bridge between devices. So, if your car has LED headlights or taillights, you could soon be driving a mobile data-transmission node!

Multinational technology giant Intel has been conducting research and development with the VLC since 2008. Engineers are now working on a system that would use a series of rapid pulses of visible light to relay information from one car to another. The pulses would not be visible to the human eye but could relay information about traffic conditions. Such information would increase the data available for a semiautonomous or autonomous driving system. The system would have access not only to the information picked up by the vehicle itself, but to information from other cars on the road as well.

Communication Occurs over the Visible Light Spectrum

Because LED technology communicates over the visible light spectrum, communication is limited to line of sight (including reflection). This can be a drawback where inclement weather or ambient lighting can interfere with the LED pulses. But the drawback is also an advantage. Communication over the VLC means that your car will communicate with other cars nearby to recognize immediate (and oncoming) hazards. By contrast, radio frequency communication provides a lot of excess data or “noise” that can drown out the important information a driver needs to make a split-second decision and prevent an accident. So far, the United States has recorded over 19,000 traffic-related deaths in 2015 alone; LED technology could save lives by alerting drivers of dangerous situations before it’s too late.

street-lights-lamps-led-connect-lifi-network-futureThe Street Grid as a Giant Broadcasting Network

As I mentioned earlier, LED headlights can be used for more than just car-to-car communication. LED light bulbs are also being installed in equipment such as streetlights and traffic lights. So, in the future, your LED-lit car may not just be communicating with other cars, but also with a complex mesh of devices on the street grid! As LED light bulbs become more widespread and their technology continues to develop, they will not just help us see—they will give us the data we need to safely and consciously navigate the roads.

Real-World Impact—What Do You Think? 

Do you think LiFi really help make our roads safer? Respond below…I would love to hear from you!