LEDs Magazine News & Insights 1 Jul 2020 - Editor's Column

June 30, 2020

Welcome to the LEDs Magazine News & Insights newsletter for July 1, 2020. With a major holiday approaching here in the US, technology news is slow this week. You can’t say the same about pandemic or political news, but those subjects are simply too depressing to discuss.

The one positive thing that the coronavirus pandemic has done is spur innovative thinking. All of the ideas might not be perfect. Some may be just plain bad, some such as ultraviolet (UV)-C-band handhelds are just plain dangerous. But some will prove valuable now or later.

For example, engineering departments at universities around the globe have found low-cost ways to build emergency ventilators should the latest COVID-19 surge stress hospitals beyond equipment capacity. I was amazed to read that students here at San Diego State University and at the University of California at San Diego had separate low-cost (around $500 in parts cost) ventilator projects near fruition. There have been similar projects in Europe. All are based on mechanizing the manual bag-based ventilators used by emergency personnel.

Our Carrie Meadows wrote last Friday about another interesting UCSD project focused on using an autonomous drone equipped with UV-C LEDs to disinfect an indoor space. I almost dismissed the concept as one of the potentially hazardous ideas we are trying to filter from the site, but it isn’t. Computers can operate a drone in a tight indoor environment without crashing it, and such a drone can carry sufficient UV capacity to safely treat an unoccupied room. Sounds better than having a drone deliver my latest gadget from Amazon.

We do have a couple of solid-state lighting (SSL) application stories for you this week. The District Wharf mixed-use development in Washington, DC is now the home of a really neat outdoor LED lighting project in the main plaza that welcomes visitors to restaurants and retailers. The circular SSL elements are relatively simple in nature. But the suspended mounting scheme is impactful, and reflections make the project even more impressive. Plexineon LED technology from iLight was the key to the project.

We also have a horticultural lighting story for you focused on tomato tastiness related to supplemental lighting in greenhouses. I won’t spoil the ending here; you will have to read Mark Halper’s story. I will offer a disclaimer. I do really enjoy the topic of horticultural lighting. And I’m very glad that SSL technology is enabling availability of better tomatoes year round. But for my start-of-July party of two, my wife and I will be having summer tomatoes grown under the sun.

You will find many more stories of interest in the body of today’s newsletter. And always feel free to contact me to discuss content we post or to pitch a contributed article.

- Maury Wright, (858) 748-6785, [email protected]