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!

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How Many US Navy Sailors Does It Take to Change an LED?

To preserve its status as the world’s best, the US military must remain efficient and keep its maintenance costs as low as possible. There are a number of ways to do this; one they’ve recently discovered is to upgrade and replace outdated lighting sources. Tens of thousands of US businesses and homeowners have already made this shift; now the Navy is climbing on board.

LED Lighting: The Clear Choice for the US Navy

US Naval bases all over the world are currently making the switch from fluorescent lighting to LED lighting. Not only will the LED upgrade make the Navy’s ocean-based operations more environmentally friendly, it will save them a boatload of money as well. In fact, the Navy is projected to save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several years.

There are a number of other motivations for this historic change. For one thing, the new LED bulbs are far easier to install, replace, and dispose of. They are also cheaper to manufacture and safer to handle during installation and replacement. The intrinsic benefits of LEDs will likely make them the standard lighting choice for all branches of the US military.

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Kerik Vargas switches his lights to high efficient light bulbs as part of an energy conservation initiative at Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH).

Navy Ships Receive the LED Treatment

The exciting and revolutionary impact of LED lighting is being realized for naval bases and beyond. After all, we’re talking about the Navy hereno major change would be complete if it didn’t include their world-renowned array of cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. The Navy will use LED lighting to illuminate not only their bases, but their ships as well.

The payoffs of switching to LED lighting are no huge mystery. The Navy ships that have switched to LEDs have already saved 3% of their yearly energy costsa tidy sum of $150 million. In addition, the new LED lights are expected to last up to 50,000 hours, which is more than seven times longer than the old fluorescent lights. Whether by land or by sea, LEDs have become the preferred lighting choice of the US Navy. What about you?

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The New Longest-Ever “Smart Tunnel” Lit with LED Lighting

LED Tunnel Lighting Comes to Norway Tunnel

LED lighting has reached another milestonethis time in Norway. The newly opened Toven Tunnel in northern Norway has become the longest tunnel to be completely lit by LED lighting. The tunnel, which links the towns of Leirfjord and Vefsn, opened in November of 2014. It is 10.7 kilometers (6.6 miles) in length, surpassing other tunnels lit by LEDs in China, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Tunnel Features Unique LED-Control System

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) made the decision to use LED lights to improve energy efficiency and adaptability. While energy savings are inherent in LED lights, the NPRA also implemented a unique lighting-control system that adjusts light intensity based on the amount of traffic in the tunnel. Since the Toven Tunnel receives a relatively low amount of traffic, this control system is a tremendous energy-saving attribute. Additionally, daylight sensors will regulate the amount of LED lighting at the beginnings and ends of the tunnel (i.e., the lights will dim according to the brightness of the sun), providing a more seamless visual transition for drivers. It is estimated that these measures will save the Toven Tunnel 70% in energy costs.

Dark Tunnel Exit Needs LED Lighting

Savings in LED Maintenance—Improvements in Tunnel Safety

The NPRA will also save on maintenance costs, as the tunnel’s LED lighting will last about 84% longer than traditional lighting. Since fixing lights in a 10.7-kilometer tunnel is a bit more difficult (and expensive) than changing a light bulb at home, LEDs provide the Toven Tunnel a significant advantage.

LED lighting can also have benefits in more heavily trafficked tunnels where the level of lighting needs to be more consistent. Benefits of LED lighting include reduced glare and a better rendering of colors than traditional lighting, allowing drivers to better see the objects around them. This will likely increase comfort for drivers and reduce the number of accidents.

The issue of LED lighting in tunnels has become so popular that it will be the theme in the first ever Road Tunnel Lighting Conference. The conference will take place in Barcelona on October 8th and 9th.

“Now that there are self-adjusting tunnel lights and plans for smart, interactive highways, do you think the future of transportation is getting safer or more complicated? Are these innovations necessary?” –Dr. Bulb

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Tribute to Founding Father of LED: Roland Haitz

The lighting community lost one of its most brilliant minds this past summer when solid-state lighting advocate and researcher, Roland Haitz, passed away in his California home. Haitz was active in the world of light-emitting diodes until his final days, having signed on to work with QuarkStar four years ago, at the age of seventy-six. As an early supporter of LED technology, Haitz predicted that LED lighting would become the technology of choice as materials and methods of production improved. His predictions were so accurate they became known as “Haitz’s Law.”

Paying Tribute to a Mind with Universal Appeal

Roland Haitz worked for decades to bring this innovative lighting technology to the mainstream. His vision was to create a world where traditional lights, like fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, were seen as inefficient, substandard options. Haitz foresaw the global transition to solid-state lighting, long before LEDs began to penetrate the wider lighting market.

At the Strategies in Light conference in 2000, Haitz announced his prediction that the cost per lumen for LEDs would fall by a factor of ten every decade, while the amount of light generated per LED would increase by a factor of twenty. His work also predicted that LED lighting would reach an efficacy of 100 lumens per watt (lm/W) by 2010, with a cool 150180 lm/W efficacy achievable by 2020. Haitz discussed the exciting prospect of super-efficient lighting and the wide range of its possible applications, including LCD backlighting, mobile-phone flashlights, and more, which prompted a surge of investment into LED research.

light emitting diodes


A Proper Memorial

Thus far, Haitz’s Law has proved to be infallible, with LED technology advancing past the 2010 benchmark of 100 lm/W. The scope of LED lighting applications has surpassed the already-broad scope Haitz and other researchers foresaw. LED lighting has become integral to the development of technology trends such as visual light communications (VLC), the Internet of Things (IoT), and human-centric lighting (HCL).

LEDs have radiant potential thanks to the advocacy of researchers like Roland Haitz. His work motivated the lighting community to fund the development of more-efficient LEDs, which can now be found in myriad expanding applications. With LED lighting, users can control the intensity, the color, and even the direction of their light sources. With wireless communication devices and VLC, controls can be accessed via smartphone or remote. Light-emitting diode streetlights can be fitted with sensors to relay information about traffic, parking availability, humidity, and air quality. Adaptive LED car headlights can automatically sense approaching vehicles and dim when appropriate.

There is a seemingly endless number of purposes for light-emitting diodes in a variety of emerging technologies. Thanks to researchers like Roland Haitz, the future will certainly be bright—and energy-efficient.


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Solar LED Lights Improve Quality of Life in Developing Countries

Residents of developed countries such as the United States often take lighting for granted. For individuals in economically developing countries, illumination is an expensive proposition. In underdeveloped countries the poor spend 100- to 1,000-times more per unit of light than those who are connected to the grid, and yet they only have access to 0.1% of the illumination enjoyed by the first world. The lights they use are primarily fuel-based: candles, kerosene, propane, diesel, battery-powered flashlights, traditional materials such as wood and grass, and even discarded rubber tires.

Inefficient Resources Contribute to the Cost

The preponderance of fuel-based lighting in poorer countries indicates how inefficient energy use can be in these areas. The expense of burning fuel traps people in poverty, and has a massively detrimental environmental impact, with greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to the exhaust output of 30 million cars. Fuel-powered light sources threaten health and safety, impede the livelihoods of those who use it, and saddle governments with energy subsidies that are often crippling.

A decade ago, there were very few solutions to the problem of lighting in most developing countries. Solar power was aggressively promoted as an energy efficient answer, however the cost of installing solar panels often equated to a family’s entire annual income. Wireless LED lighting has recently emerged as a possible solution to this problem. With ultra-low wattage bulbs now on the market, in addition to the decreasing price and size of solar cells, lighting systems are now available that are ready for immediate installation, with no professional assistance required.

solar lighting kids

Wireless Lighting for Developing Nations

Today’s market features a multitude of high quality solar-LED products with varying features and light output capabilities. Prices range from about $10 to $75 and typically pay for themselves within a year, while the energy involved in manufacturing them is recouped with a few weeks.

Non-profit organizations, such as Solar Aid, have introduced solar-LED lights to many economically poor countries, with many more eagerly following suit. Consumers in underdeveloped countries have happily adjusted to the technology. Solar Aid alone has sold over 1 million lights in five African countries. The sales rate continues to grow at a rapid pace of 30% a year. Product offerings have increased as well, including phone charging capabilities and other extended functionalities. As miniaturization of LED and solar devices continues to inspire more portable technology, additional end uses including flat screen televisions, small fans, and other appliances, are now hitting the market.

Low product quality and financing problems initially hampered the success of some of the products, but quality has continued to increase, while mobile money is making a difference in how consumers in remote areas pay for these life-changing items. With more than 40 companies making portable LED products and a 30 percent growth rate, improved energy access is now available to more than 35 million people in Africa, across 25 countries.

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The Strange Reason Turtles Are Hyding on Jekyll Island

Environmental authorities have discovered a sharp decline in the number of nesting sea turtles on Georgia’s Jekyll Island, and it appears that light pollution is to blame. 111 nests were counted on other areas of the island this year, with only 1 discovered on the beaches in front of the newly opened Westin Hotel. Prior to the hotel opening, the beach hosted an average of 8 turtle nests a year. Sea turtles can lay hundreds of eggs in one nest, and the loss of 7 nests is an exponential decrease in the number of potential turtles that have the ability to be born on and live near the island.

A Different Kind of Pollution

The drop in turtle nests around the beachfront property directly corresponds with the opening of the Westin Hotel, which began operating in April, when turtle nesting season was getting underway. The hotel was cited in May by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Senior Wildlife Biologist, Mark Dodd, for 10 lighting noncompliance issues. The citations include partially shielded fixtures, light leaking from windows and individual lights, such as pool, balcony, and tree lights which are all guilty of light pollution.

Sea turtles face a variety of environmental challenges thanks to mankind, but artificial lighting remains the largest threat. Female sea turtles prefer to nest on quiet, dark. Bright lights discourage them from laying eggs. If they do manage to nest on a brightly lit beach, the resulting hatchlings will be easily disoriented. Upon hatching at night, turtles are usually drawn to the sea by the soft glow of light reflecting off the ocean. Artificial lights draw them inland, where they inevitably can not survive.

hiding turtle

An Obvious Solution

Mark Dodd and David Egan, a co-director of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, are in agreement that the height of the building and the lighting violations have created an especially unfriendly zone for sea turtle nesting in the area. Hotel officials have said they are working to achieve compliance, but that there is no time limit due to the complexity of the project. However, according the letters that were sent to the Westin regarding the infractions, once notified they have 10 days to comply before they are considered to be in violation of the terms of the lease.
Incidents like these underscore the importance of developing technologies, such as wildlife friendly LED lighting. While it may not be possible for the hotel to encourage every guest to close their blinds at night, they could easily replace many of the offending outdoor fixtures with amber LED. Amber LED emits light at a frequency and color temperature that does not negatively affect local wildlife. Not only does wildlife friendly LED cut down on light pollution, it also has the undeniable benefits of LED efficiency.