COMMENTARY | Miles to go before we sleep

Jan. 30, 2024
During its 20 years, LEDs Magazine has covered a wealth of technology development. CARRIE MEADOWS looks ahead to new prospects for responsible lighting.

2024 will mark twenty years since the LEDs Magazine brand launched its website and newsletter, founded on a new wave of interest in commercial prospects for the compact emitters. Since then, LEDs have made their way into a growing number of applications due to their brightness, controllability, color mixing capabilities, and compact size.

In its earliest days, LEDs followed the expanding high-brightness LED market closely through forecasts and research presented by Strategies Unlimited, while covering the explosion of advances in device architecture, power electronics, optical, and thermomechanical solutions that would spur penetration into new sectors. At that time, mobile and other displays were the largest segment for LEDs, but many innovators were working on engineering solutions to light extraction issues, droop, and other problems preventing a large foothold in the lighting industry.

Not long after I joined the LEDs team, founder and former editor Tim Whitaker contributed a ten-year anniversary column outlining some of the challenges that LED developers and systems integrators faced in leveraging the potential of the emitter into general illumination — in addition to gaining acceptance by lighting manufacturers. New terminology, test methodologies, and performance metrics emerged in response to the lighting market’s need to better understand the characteristics of the light source in order to properly design it into luminaires. And that process continues as our collective knowledge base evolves.

Each year, I am reminded of how far the LED has come since its invention and how many use cases continue to emerge. Still, general illumination is our brand’s largest area of application coverage now due to its market share and ubiquity. That would not have been possible without fundamental advances in underlying technology that delivered greater efficacy, improved color rendering, and longer lifetimes alongside more cost-effective manufacturing of LEDs and finished SSL products.

Now the LED and lighting sectors face new prospects to refine the integration of LEDs, overcome design challenges, and modernize approaches. These include mitigating outdoor light pollution; fine-tuning spectral output and intensity levels indoors for improved wellbeing; engineering automotive and roadway lighting for better visual comfort and safety; designing products to end-of-life considerations; and even advocating alongside specifiers, designers, and other professionals to overhaul outdated public-lighting infrastructure and practices with new evidence-backed assessments that allow all areas to thrive. That’s only a sampling of what we expect to see going forward.

While we acknowledge the milestones in development, integration, and practical application, it’s important to observe the path ahead for ways to improve and challenge our implementation of lighting technology for the betterment of all. To steal a phrase from poet Robert Frost, we have miles to go before we sleep.

CARRIE MEADOWS is editor-in-chief of LEDs Magazine, with 20-plus years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

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About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.