Lighting has always played an important role in how humans live their lives. When carbon arc lamp “moonlight towers” were constructed in the pre-electric light days, people could suddenly go outside and socialize after dark, shifting the paradigm of daily life. When Thomas Edison invented that first incandescent bulb, the transformation was even greater: He not only changed the way people lit their homes and businesses, but he impacted their daily lives—people could begin their days before the sun rose, walk and drive the streets more safely, and enjoy company later in the evening. Recognizing technology’s incredible potential to create change, product innovation has remained a focus for us since our company was founded more than 130 years ago.
Lighting technology continues to evolve, with LEDs leading the way to more efficient, bright and sustainable solutions for every need. We have continued to drive LED advancement over the last 50 years, ever since one of our engineers invented the industry-changing technology in 1963. Today, from televisions and phone screens, to roadway and outdoor lighting, to the familiar lamps in our homes and offices, LED technology is everywhere. Whereas Edison’s first test bulbs with carbon filaments lasted for 13.5 hours, many LEDs installed today can last more than a decade. Also, these LEDs are going to cut electricity usage anywhere from 50–70 percent over alternative lighting options.
When Edison invented electric light, his challenge didn’t end there—he next had to figure out how to scale and optimize his creation. Well over a century later, we’re revisiting this challenge with LEDs as we enter the era of the Internet of Things. Tapping into the power of LED light waves has allowed us to explore the possibilities of the Connected Future. Businesses and consumers not only adapt to, but thrive in this changing world. This technology transformation is taking place, and we look forward to once again helping people live, work and grow smarter.
The Lighting Industry: Evolving and Advancing
Light has remained essentially the same for a century, you might say. So, how can we make a leap forward now? The answer is twofold: better light-emitting diodes and lower-cost sensors, transmitters and controls.
LED lighting technology has actually made major strides in recent years. Early products struggled to produce a “pleasing” light or simply, enough of it. Today, the quality and light output of LED lamps and fixtures is now comparable, if not superior to, traditional incandescent, fluorescent and halogen sources.
The result is rapidly increasing adoption. In fact, according to a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, LED usage will reach about 70 percent in commercial environments by 2020, up dramatically from just between 10–20 percent today.
At the same time, advances in electronics and manufacturing have ushered in a new generation of much smaller, more powerful, less expensive wireless sensors, transmitters and controls that easily integrate with LED lights, which operate as semiconductors (where illumination is achieved by movement of electrons through a semiconductor material).
It all has the industry excited, and rightly so. This convergence of intelligence and infrastructure has far-ranging implications and the potential to create realities limited only by imagination. LED lights that leverage the latest intelligent hardware and software can talk, listen and even learn. And it’s already happening.