Lighting is evolving at a rapid pace. From an industry that was virtually stagnant for a very long time, it is now almost impossible to keep up with the latest and greatest. When Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in the late 1800s it was certainly ground breaking, but even he probably didn’t think that same bulb would be used for the next 100 years. Today we advance our technologies so often that it seems by the time you get to the store to purchase something, it is yesterday’s news.
The modern era, with rapid advancements in technology and a heavier emphasis on energy efficiency began to pave the way for newer light sources. The 1990s produced the CFL bulb, you know that spiral looking thing that you probably have somewhere in your house? More recently, LEDs have emerged, offering improved efficiency and other non-energy benefits that had previously not been available.
Even with the high efficiency lighting available today, the industry shows no signs of slowing down. To keep up with all the latest and greatest, Newport recently visited the bright lights, big city of NYC to attend the 2015 LIGHTFAIR International. For over 25 years, LIGHTFAIR has been the world’s premier lighting trade show, revealing new technologies, solutions, and knowledge.
As I walked around the show, it seemed like we were seeing more of the same. Many of the exhibitors featured very similar products. Lots and lots of LED bulbs, a heavy focus on smart controls, and a lot of fancy commercial and hospitality applications. It became clear that LEDs for the residential market were lagging way behind. I asked a couple of exhibitors about that specifically and most of them, depending on the nature of their business, agreed. They mentioned that LED bulbs were certainly becoming more popular in homes, but the more innovative stuff, such as integrated LEDs are just not in high demand. Many indicated that their high price points combined with a lack of consumer knowledge and awareness on all the features and benefits that the new LED technology provides was the crux of the issue.
As I walked around, there were a few products that stood out to me. One of these was a company called Light Tape. The product (shown right) uses a form of electroluminescent technology in the form of low-profile strips or panels that “seamlessly and evenly illuminate edge to edge.” A single connection can light up 150 feet of the product and can be connected to other strips to give you the exact length and size you need. It can twist and turn, providing unlimited artistic design options for both interior and exterior applications. The product also comes in larger panels that can be used under countertops, shelves, and practically anything else you can imagine. Light Tape essentially allows you to turn anything and everything into a light source of any color. I’m not doing this product justice so just go here and check it out for yourself.
The other thing that really caught my eye was the number of vintage filament style light bulbs that were actually LEDs. What struck me about these is that not only did they look almost exactly like the old Edison style bulbs, but that 1 year ago these did not exist at all. You couldn’t even find something like this in a google search, and trust me I tried. About a year ago we were finalizing fixtures for a 100% LED house that was part of our LED Lighting Demonstration project in New York. The homeowners had purchased an antique fixture that came with the Edison bulbs. Because the project required that all the lighting in the home be LED, we were forced to replace these bulbs with a more traditional looking LED that really took away from the look and feel of the fixture as a whole. One year later and we would have had the perfect solution. And there wasn’t just one of these….at least 4 or 5 different companies were showcasing these in a number of different styles and shapes. Going back to my first sentence, lighting is evolving at a rapid pace. Check out one of the manufacturers, Archipelago Lighting.
It will be interesting to see what the 2016 LIGHTFAIR International brings to the table. Will there be more residential elements? What is going to be the next new craze in the lighting world? Guess we will have to make the trek out to San Diego to find out!