Optimism shines through in Strategies in Light video interviews (MAGAZINE)

Sept. 14, 2021
Video interviews known as Quick Chats, available in the Strategies in Light event resources, bring key focus to positive developments in LEDs and SSL, observes MAURY WRIGHT.

I’m writing this column just after we completed our first virtual Strategies in Light event over Aug. 24–25. You can still register and access the content on demand for two months. We have upcoming feature coverage of some of the presentations. One of the things I handled for the event was a series of video interviews that we call Quick Chats with virtual exhibitors. I think the videos are worth your while to view, and I decided to mention a couple of things that stood out to me — even that surprised and pleased me.

One of the interviewees was Claude Demby, president of the new Cree LED. As most of you know, Cree Inc., which is now essentially power semiconductor manufacturer Wolfspeed, sold the Cree LED business unit to Smart Global Holdings earlier this year. Ironically, Claude was a key player within Cree Inc. who handled the divestiture of Cree Lighting to Ideal Industries back in 2019.

I asked Claude about innovation in the LED component space, noting that leaps in lumen output and efficacy are not nearly so broad these days. Of course, the culprit is in device physics. The magicians developing LEDs have wrung most of the performance out of the fabric, so to speak.

Still, Claude is nothing but an optimist when it comes to the future of LEDs. He was quick to point out that baseline performance is still increasing and great strides are being made to optimize packaged LEDs for specific applications. He is assured of Cree LED’s ability to deliver increasing value to its customers across a broadening application space. That application breadth includes the general lighting market that Cree LED arguably led to LEDs, and also horticultural lighting and video. Cree has long been a key supplier of LEDs to outdoor video boards, but also intends to play in the finer-pitch, directly-emissive video revolution.

Still, it was the aforementioned optimism that caught me most by surprise. It would be easy for an executive such as Claude who has been through an M&A process to be less than enthusiastic about the future. Claude, however, came across as supremely confident in the future of Cree LED and in the role that Cree LED will play in diversifying and growing the Smart Global Holdings business. The other video I will mention was with Gina Rodda, owner of energy consulting firm Gabel Energy and representing the California Energy Code Ace program, which helps stakeholders ranging from manufacturers to designers/specifiers in dealing with regulatory policy in California Title 24 and 20. Those polices are important far beyond the California state line as California has consistently set energy standards that are subsequently adopted across the country and around the globe.

In the interview, I referred to the California policy as more stringent than typical. Gina, however, immediately suggested that a better word was “progressive.” And she is right. Regular readers of this column know I lean left. Yet I’ve been quick at times to question California actions. Gina made a great point that stakeholders should take a positive approach to meeting California policy, and she demonstrated Energy Code Ace tools that can help with just that task.

Meanwhile, I find myself in the midst of a permanent move to Alabama where I have family. I learned the investor-owned utility here is so forward looking that it requires customers who install solar to still pay for energy-generating capacity they would require without solar. Now that’s not progressive.

Maury Wright


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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.