Lighting and System Design: Coming Soon to a Computer Near You
By John Donovan
If you’re not used to thinking of lighting and system design in the same sentence, think again. While most of us have been paying close attention to the latest advances in microprocessors and debating the future of Moore’s Law, the same semiconductor firms that produce those chips have been quietly making money in the more mundane lighting market. A lot of it.
We’re not talking about those high-brightness (HB) little heaters called incandescent bulbs, which waste 95% of the power required to run them as heat. According to Vrinda Bhandarkar, LED market analyst at Strategies Unlimited, the HB LED market should exceed $8 billion in 2010 and grow at an overall CAGR of 29.5% to reach $19.6 billion in 2014. That’s far beyond the most optimistic predictions for the semiconductor market, which explains why semiconductor firms are getting strongly on board.
The growth of the LED lighting market is due in part to better technology. LED performance across the color spectrum has improved dramatically over the last several years; cool white LED luminous efficiency increased by a factor of 8.6 from 2000-2009. Packaging has improved, too, with LEDs now being available in lamps, SMDs, multichip and high-power packages.
The need for energy efficiency—first driven by battery-powered portable devices—is now a requirement in all lighting markets. The use of HB LEDs in displays, commercial and industrial lighting has risen dramatically in the last few years—in the case of displays 232% since 2000 according to Strategies Unlimited. Over 52% of PCs sold last year had LED backlights, up from just 12% the year before.Integrating HB LEDs and backlights into low-power portable devices is a system-level challenge and one that manufacturers of power-management ICs (PMICs) and LED drivers are all addressing. Still, with markets as diverse as mobile appliances, signs and displays, automotive, signals and industrial lighting, there is a wide choice of rapidly changing technologies and an equally wide range of integration issues.
Lighting: The Desktop Trade Show
To help engineers catch up with the latest developments in lighting technologies and applications, Digi-Key and EE Times are presenting a virtual conference titled “Lighting and System Design” on August 26th. The event will include four panels of lighting experts speaking on
- Today's Lighting Technologies
- Lighting the Future
- Procurement Issues
An additional panel titled Solve My Lighting Problems: Ask the Experts will spend an hour tackling questions from the audience. The panels will include lighting experts from Digi-Key, Cree, OSRAM, TI, STMicro, Linear Tech, Oree, Qualcomm and Strategies Unlimited who will address the full range of lighting issues. If you have a knotty design issue, just sign up, log in and enjoy a bit of free consulting time. Or just lurk and learn.
In addition to the panels there will be three scheduled chats, the topics to be chosen by people who sign up for the conference (you get to vote when you register). Sponsors will have virtual booths, where even if you’re a garage shop you can get through to a helpful FAE to answer your questions.
Overall these events are both highly informative a lot of fun. Jump in with both feet or lurk and learn. Either way you’ll learn a lot about lighting technologies without having to deal with the usual trade show traffic and sore feet.