When LEDs Magazine was first launched as a spin-out publication in another lifetime, it seems, the goal of the budding solid-state lighting (SSL) industry was to deliver usable light for general illumination. As the years moved on, scientists and engineers realized that there was more to delivering and controlling photons from a semiconductor device — and the potential and definition of “usable” expanded significantly. What else could you do with light besides provide visibility?
The SSL industry grew out of an emerging LED market, from a combination of academic exploration and engineering ingenuity. Enter our HortiCann Light + Tech conference, many years later, evidence of the march the lighting industry has made into niche applications beyond illumination of a space for human vision.
On the exhibit floor, the hosts of the “Get A Grip On Lighting” podcast were invited to film live. Our own Maury Wright was able to spend some time chatting with Mike Colligan and Greg Ehrich, discussing the roots of the SSL market as well as his own journey from engineering to media. He mentioned the charter of our LED & Lighting Network team “to help push the industry forward” at events such as HortiCann and the Strategies in Light conference — where, Maury observed, “We’ve been matchmakers for some very big deals over the years” as a result of the Investor Forum in particular.
The interview touched upon how technology development began to turn toward scientific applications of light, biological implications of light, innovations that advanced the functions of LEDs as sensors, and more. Mike, Greg, and Maury also raised issues that the SSL industry has yet to tackle with consistency, such as metrics and performance lifetime characteristics of LEDs. And getting a handle on applying research for optimal commercial development without losing the usability of LED technology and associated controls was noted as an ongoing challenge.
While the video spans a variety of topics in less than 20 minutes, quality is the overarching point. The main takeaway from the conversation is that LED technology has so much potential across various markets, but sustainable SSL business and continued growth will only be achieved with a renewed focus on quality of light and quality of product that is designed to execute on the particular needs of each intended application — certainly a critical point when it comes to horticulture, where light cannot be used or measured in the same way for plants as it is for humans.