LEDs Magazine News & Insights 19 Aug 2020 - Editor's Column

Aug. 19, 2020

Welcome to the LEDs Magazine News & Insights newsletter for Aug. 19, 2020. I’ll tell you that trying to make sense out of the global economy during the pandemic remains a challenging endeavor. And it’s not that I’m trying to score some magical financial gain myself, although that would be quite nice. It’s just the engineer in me that can’t stand not to understand something.

In the US on Tuesday, the S&P 500 Index closed at an all-time high. That sounds good, right? Read accounts of the day’s financial trading and you will find obviously-smart people suggesting that the bear market was brief and is over. It can’t be that simple.

Housing prices have stayed elevated, but that’s because people are choosing to stay put rather than move with COVID-19 rampant. Retail sales are up, yet iconic retailers are going bankrupt. COVID-19 has finished what the Internet started. But ultimately we may not be pleased living in an Amazon world long term. I read auto sales are down 50% year over year for the second quarter. Unemployment figures remain bleak. The hospitality sector will take years to recover from COVID-19. We are talking 3-D chess here.

I think the economic situation comes down to sector and unfortunately the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) sectors are being impacted disproportionately. COVID-19 and the new work-from-home trend are going to impact commercial real estate for quite some time. Commercial lighting will be a tough sell, unless... Unless our industry can truly bring extra value via lighting.

But off my soapbox. I mentioned the auto industry above and also in the last two newsletters we have deployed. As some of you surely read, I was enamored of the 2021 Mercedes S-Class, although I understand I will never drive one without that magic financial miracle. I did learn more about the vehicle since last Friday, including the fact that it is not yet in showrooms. But we now know more about how the LED lighting works.

I also have to say that the OLED display technology in the Cadillac Escalade is pretty impressive. We covered that vehicle in the story linked above. Having three screens and significant ability to configure those displays as you like would be quite nice. And the camera technology lets the driver get a good look in every direction. I believe these are features that should improve safety. I sure hope they are. But ultimately the driver needs to look through the windshield, at least for now.

And speaking of displays, I’ve become very enamored with evolving mini/micro LED display technology. Directly-emissive displays are the future and micro LED will usurp OLED at some point. Still, I was very surprised to learn that GE might have a key technology that might unleash micro LED technology.

Now in its heyday, nothing GE announced would have surprised me. The company executed flawlessly in both R&D and business. But I don’t even think of GE as a source of R&D at this point. It was, however, GE in a keynote at the virtual Display Week conference that presented the use of narrowband or line phosphors in association with micro LED technology. The company has developed an inkjet or 3-D approach to printing such phosphors with nanoscale precision.

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]