COMMENTARY | Advancements in LED applications offer newfound opportunities

March 16, 2023
Today’s LEDs Magazine may not always put device-level innovation at the forefront, but the pursuit of improved performance, experience, and flexibility to meet application-driven demands leaves plenty of room for new ground to cover, says WANDA LAU.

Anyone outside of engineering might lump all engineering fields together, but we engineers know that chemical engineering is very different from mechanical engineering and so on. I was apprehensive when I started this role at LEDs Magazine because I have a background neither in electrical engineering nor in lighting science. I do bear dusty credentials in civil engineering, which I chose to study over science and math for engineering’s distinction as a field that applies science and math to everyday life.

A dedicated reader of LEDs Magazine over its nearly 20 years might have noticed that our coverage has shifted recently from insights and deep dives into advancements in lighting components and technologies to focusing more on the applications and opportunities enabled by LEDs. This is certainly not an intentional divergence from the work by my predecessor, the incomparable and beloved Maury Wright, but due simply to the fact that I lack his wealth experience in solid-state lighting.

Lucky for me, the direction of innovation in the industry has similarly shifted from technical and performance advancements of LEDs themselves to what we can do with lighting that we could not do previously because designers and end users now have confidence in the technology’s efficiency, performance, versatility, and reliability. (I recognize that technical advancements to LED components are still occurring — no angry messages, please, but do consider writing for the magazine!)

This LEDs issue goes to publication right before LEDucation (March 6–8) and well before LightFair (May 21–25), but as I review the conference sessions and keynote speakers, I can’t help but be intrigued by each session and the array of topics covered: smart controls, light quality, health and wellbeing, social equity, sustainability. All topics that LEDs, along with the other Endeavor Business Media brands I oversee, has covered to varying degrees or would certainly cover in the future.

Furthermore, the LightFair keynote, delivered by Karen Treviño, National Park Service division chief of natural sounds and night skies, will focus on night sky preservation — which happens to be the topic of this issue’s project feature. Science journalist and new contributor to LEDs Shel Evergreen walks us through the selection process of dark-sky friendly streetlights in the small town of Pepperell, Mass. The retrofit is a project many cities and communities will undertake in the coming years; their leadership and citizens may benefit from Pepperell's success story and its revelations for balancing streetlight performance with environmental and economic needs.

My point is that I am thankful that I have not steered the magazine too far from industry discourse. And that’s as much as this relative newbie in lighting can ask for.

WANDA LAU is editorial director of LEDs Magazine, Architectural SSL, and Smart Buildings Technology. She previously served as executive editor of Architect magazine and worked for a decade in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

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About the Author

Wanda Lau | Editorial director, LEDs Magazine, Architectural SSL, and Smart Buildings Technology

Wanda Lau is an award-winning editor, writer, and podcaster whose work appears in several publications, including Architectural Lighting and Architect, where she was most recently the executive editor. In 2021, she was named one of Folio: and AdMonsters' Top Women in Media, in the DEI Champions category. Along with working a decade in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, she holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Michigan State University, an S.M. in building technology from MIT, and an M.A. in journalism from Syracuse University.