Resources | LpR Article | Event-Reports | Business | Technologies | Applications | Jan 26, 2017

LuxLive and SILE Sharpen Focus on End-Users

On November 23rd and 24th, as in previous years, LuxLive was held in the Excel Center close to London’s City Airport. This year, for the second time since the merger of Revo Media and Pennwell, LuxLive and Strategies in Light Europe were co-located. Arno Grabher-Meyer, Editor-in-Chief at LED professional, summarizes his impressions of the event, picking out the more technical oriented lectures held in the different "arenas".

Most of the traditional luminaire and system providers for the UK market and many companies that want to break into the UK market were present with upmarket booths. A broad program, from free accessible presentations on different stages in the exhibition to lighting designer, installer and building manager focused, and application related presentations in LuxLive’s “tech arenas”, and two SILE tracks provided more strategic and technology overview topics.

While the end-user focus isn’t as relevant for technicians, the secondary activities included some appealing lectures. The huge number of contributions made a strategic selection most important for visitors and attendees alike. However, to provide the most relevant information for the LED professional readership, my task was clear: Select the more technology focused sessions, lectures and activities to gather valuable, detailed information. And listen carefully to the keynote speeches held on Wednesday morning in the SILE conference area, to get an idea about the event and its aims.

The Keynote Sessions

The heartfelt greetings by Philip Smallwood, Director of LED & Lighting Research at Strategies Unlimited and Geert van der Meer, SVP & CEO Business Unit Digital Systems at Osram, geared the audience up for the event.

Mr. van der Meer explained how the World Wide Web has changed the world, allowing smart infrastructures. He also delivered some thought-provoking ideas when he showed that today’s buildings use 50% less energy per square meter than they used in the 1970’s but this progress is over-compensated by the fact that the building area per person has increased by approximately 400%! He believes that this situation calls for intelligent building management that could be accomplished by lighting infrastructure enabled IoT. He explained that currently the monthly costs of a building per square meter in big cities are: €3 for energy, €30 for rent, and €300 per person/user. Based on this 3-30-300 rule, he clearly sees services far beyond energy savings or pure space management as a business case for the lighting industry. Consequently, the biggest savings can be generated when managing the last cost factor most efficiently. One proposed solution is “biological lighting” which could easily increase human efficiency by 10%.

In the following speech, Dominic Noel-Johnson, Vice President at Green Investment Bank, emphasized that financing strategies and models clearly lag behind the development of LED technology. He stressed that replacement will most certainly happen but it could be faster with an appropriate financing strategy and services. He believes that one of the reasons for this situation is that the public hand does not have the money to invest. Another reason is that single lighting projects are much too small for third party financing from organizations like his bank. Investment companies are used to dealing with projects like offshore wind power plant financing.

The third speaker in the first part of the keynote session was Dr. Falk Meissner, the CSO at Lumileds. Dr. Meissner showed market figures for the component business. After a flat 2% phase from 2014 to 2016, he expects it to increase to 4%-5% in the coming years. He stated, however, that figures are far below earlier predictions. He also showed which application areas the growth will be fostered from. The biggest drivers are younger LED lighting applications like horticulture and animal farming while the established applications are seemingly reaching a saturation point. Concerning the business environment, he said that while the last few years have led to a consolidation in the semiconductor business, he does not see that in the near future for the LED and lighting business. On the contrary, he expects even more fragmentation.

After a short break, Diederik de Stoppelaar, Secretary General of LightingEurope, presented the position of the organization on different political decisions and trends that are relevant to the lighting industry. He emphasized the organization’s main goal to make sure that an “equal major playing field” is provided for all participants in the European and world-wide lighting market. He sees a clear necessity to proceed towards intelligent lighting that provides true human centric light as defined in the SSL-erate program. HCL is lighting designed to increase vision, well-being and the performance of humans. He also reminded the industry of the importance of a circular economy and the need to come to a new understanding on that issue, even when the lighting sector is doing quite well.

Gordon Routledge, Chairman & Publisher at Revo Media, asked in his distinctive, subtle, but provoking manner just what went wrong with LEDs. He suggested killing the light switch and compared today’s approach to building LED luminaires with playing with LEGO blocks. He emphasized the opportunities IoT brings with it and also warned of the possible threats. Gordon Routledge ended his speech with the words, “No good stuff for free. Stop the bad stuff!”

Philip Smallwood returned to the stage to close the keynote session. While his figures were slightly different, he basically outlined a similar picture of the business and market situation as Dr. Falk Meissner did, with horticulture lighting being the major growth segment. In addition, Mr. Smallwood suggested that lighting could become the backbone of smart cities.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 13.41.14.pngThe presence of companies like CoeLux, with their innovative lighting solutions, and other luminaire manufacturers support the end-user approach of the event

Lectures with Technical Content

While there weren’t many lectures with a deeper technology focus, the ones I attended were particularly enlightening. Three speakers and lectures are especially worth mentioning due to the way they provided a good understanding of the current situation and status of three very different technologies.

Plessey Semiconductors’ CTO, Dr. Keith Strickland, gave his insights on GaN-on-Si technology, the current status and where he sees the biggest advantages. He said that although GaN-on-Si LED technology development was developed much later than GaN-on- Sapphire, and therefore had some performance disadvantages at the beginning, this deficit has been compensated for and the technology offers a performance on par with today’s standard for conventional LEDs. While GaN-on- Si LED production needs some extra process steps to avoid lattice defects due to strain, the costs can be held lower, especially because of the bigger wafer size. Plessey and most of their management and development team already have a long history in manufacturing Si-based semiconductors, namely mixed signal ICs before ramping up LED business. This knowledge and the Si-based technology allows the integration of additional components; currently mainly for ESD protection (Zener diodes) and photo diodes. The technology is also said to have advantages when it comes to the design of multi-junction high voltage LEDs and larger devices. Single chip LEDs of approximately four times the size of conventional LEDs are no issue. The further advantages that Dr. Strickland sees are the design of so-called micro LEDs and the integration of optics to produce chip scale packaged (CSP) optics.

Dr. James Norman Bardsley from Bardsley Consulting, who is also the leading technology analyst for DoE and ISA, talked about the future of OLEDs. At the beginning of his talk, he emphasized that the lighting industry should probably not try to escape from lighting into IoT based services because there are many, much stronger competitors. Instead, he felt they should deliver better, valuable technology that the client is willing to pay for. For the future of OLEDs, he sees light and shadow. In some applications OLEDs already have some distinctive technical advantages over LEDs. At the same time they still have huge drawbacks in many aspects, especially when it comes to efficiency and costs. The reason for the enormous performance drawback is primarily the very low extraction efficiency. While internal quantum efficiency is already at about 65%, extraction efficiency is at approximately 35%, leading to a wall-plug efficiency of maximum 18%. While, for example, big displays, up to 55 inch TVs, are presented and may reach an acceptable cost point soon, these costs will still be much too high for lighting applications. Therefore, he sees the near future more in OLED displays with the technology transforming later into lighting products. The general observation that OLED development lags behind the earlier forecasted roadmap demonstrates the complexity of the technology, especially when it comes to mass production and the cost-effective roll-to-roll and printing process. This helps to understand why, for example, Konica Minolta still has no mass production product after demonstrating very promising prototypes almost two years ago. For more information on this hot topic, we will be publishing the LED professional Tech-Talk Bregenz with Dr. Bardsley in LpR 60 (the March/April issue).

John Peek, Senior Advisor at Soraa Laser gave a detailed look at what visitors to the LpS 2016 already heard from Prof. Shuji Nakamura. One of the important aspects for laser lighting is Soraa’s semi-polar laser technology. One big advantage of laser, especially GaN-on-GaN grown semi-polar lasers, is the high efficiency at high currents that is not negatively affected by droop. Another is the extremely small size of the light source that leads to an extraordinarily high luminance. Mr. Peek also showed which concepts of laser lights are possible and what the advantages and disadvantages are. From Soraa’s point of view, there is one concept that incorporates the most advantages. It satisfies the safety requirements and allows for proper thermal design. While costs are still too high, it is expected that they will decrease to a reasonable price-point soon, due to the higher yield per wafer compared to LEDs of a similar luminosity.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 13.47.33.pngThe demonstration of ethical live hacking was an eye-opener. While IoT can offer enormous benefits for all users, industry has to do it right in order to avoid havoc

Tom Griffith, ams/TAOS' Senior Marketing Manager, demonstrated their latest achievements in sensor technologies, namely: Miniaturization and higher integration. This makes sensors cheaper and has positive effects on system costs. He also stressed that it is all about taking the first step of comparing lights with smartphones. The huge numbers of sensors that are required for them made the sensors cheaper, and there are many more luminaires sold per year than smartphones. When the first smartphones were introduced virtually, no apps (which offer the true value) were available, but the number of apps exploded in a short time. He predicts the same will happen for all IoT enabled applications. From a hardware perspective, highly integrated chip-level solutions are already available, and even higher integrated solutions are to come. Tom Griffith also explained that usability to not only pertains to lighting and reducing energy bills, but it goes far beyond that. The time for baby steps is over when entering this business today. A respectable amount of leaps of faith are now necessary.Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 13.47.26.pngApart from praising the well-known theoretical business options, Tom Griffith came with a clear picture of practical and technical solutions

Highlight of the “Arenas” on the Exhibition Floor

Technicians would find some of the lectures and demonstrations that were presented in the “arenas” throughout the exhibition area, interesting. Ken Munro, an ethical hacker at Pen Test Partners, gave an “outstanding performance” (for lack of a better word). The demonstration of different IoT enabled products was great fun to watch, and at the same time, Mr. Munro provided information about which links in the chain were poorly designed or programmed, leading to vulnerability. The following points are taken from his long list of advice. He pointed out that it is very important to design IoT devices to allow the company to make updates using push communication technology. One big issue is that apps request rights for unnecessary information and hardware, storing unsecured data. He also said that hardware design is critical. It is not sufficient just to leave out the debugging and analysis sockets because the empty pins still offer easy access to the software for reverse engineering. It was simply amazing how easy many devices can be hacked if you know what you are doing. But he also emphasized that any IoT product would be relatively safe if the clear design and programming guidelines of the used standards and protocols would be recognized.

Professor Russell Foster of the Oxford University held another noteworthy presentation in the “lightspace dot”. It was very interesting to find out how he and his team found the so-called “third receptor” in the eye and his information about the effects of disturbances of the circadian rhythm is a must-know for everybody working in the lighting business. Especially revealing were his remarks about how intensity, illumination duration and color to trigger the circadian rhythm need to be properly considered. The findings about short-term effects, long-term effects and “psychiatric” effects are food for thought.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 13.47.37.pngProf. Foster identified many effects that are induced by failures in circadian synchronization

Final Thoughts

The event is increasingly following an end-user approach and absolutely fulfills this self-imposed goal. It is absolutely valuable for designers, installers and building managers. But what is it for technicians? Well, a strongly technology focused event will provide more technical input, but it is also not wrong for technicians to think outside the box and to understand what the markets and applications require. Therefore it is worth keeping LuxLive in mind and watching the program announcement carefully. There are certainly also some interesting contributions with a technical focus. LuxLive is certainly a meeting point for the lighting industry.