Top 20 stories of 2021 indicate market pushes beyond UV

Dec. 28, 2021
Business transformation, strategy shifts to combat pandemic-driven economies, and a variety of application and technical stories topped our 2021 articles.

As we have done for many years, the LEDs Magazine team reviewed our website data to analyze trends across LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) business and applications, markets, new technology and research, and longer-form coverage from our magazine issues. The 2021 analytics revealed quite a mix of most-read content, with a greater variety of business stories pushing germicidal ultraviolet (GUV) research and case studies further down the top 20 list.

Going back to November 2020 when chief editor Maury Wright wrote his Commentary for our Industry Guide issue, he forecasted that “the LED and SSL sectors will have to deal with remnants of the pandemic even if multiple vaccines arrive for the start of the New Year.” But Wright further noted that “the pandemic will also yield new opportunity to the LED and SSL sectors” spurred by interest in GUV technology in institutional and building-campus settings — which was the motivation for our series of UV-C application special reports in 2021.

Of course, our plans for magazine coverage are made well in advance of what unfolds on a daily basis in the LED and SSL industry, so it is always edifying to follow trending topics throughout the year and see whether they parallel business and applications developments we’re expecting — or they take an entirely different turn. As we suspected, readers remained interested in UV application details (as well as visible light for disinfection) but the amount of research, product launches, and case studies slowly receded, which would impact volume of available content on that topic.

Still, it’s clear from this top 20 of 2021 that supply-chain impacts on company financials and adaptations to SSL market approaches became a dominant theme this year. As in recent years, we reviewed our site analytics for the number of visits to article pages (both news and magazine articles). After analyzing the initial report, we combined related stories within our top 10 commentary below, as this validates the popular themes regardless of whether articles published earlier in the year had more time to collect traffic.

Top 20 articles of 2021

1. The ongoing emergence of ams Osram as a sensor-driven company

Now, our most popular story of the entire year was an early February announcement that Osram was beginning to divest its digital lighting businesses. But as mentioned, we’ve packed together some of the related articles from the stats report that compelled this ams Osram coverage toward the top of the list.

2. Visible LED light gets spotlight for SARS-CoV-2 impact

As reported by chief editor Maury Wright in May, several laboratory trials documented that violet radiation around 405 nm can over time deactivate viruses, including the coronavirus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a significant piece of information missing from the antimicrobial light puzzle, as visible-light products had previously been studied and determined to deactivate bacterial and fungal pathogens.

3. Ams Osram sells off connected SSL and components units

Over the summer, ams Osram sold off its North American Digital Systems business to Acuity Brands, which is integrating the connected lighting components unit into its own Digital Lighting Networks unit. Later in the fall, the sensing specialist continued to separate the connected lighting and controls offerings by selling Boston-based Digital Lumens to private equity firm Skyview Capital.

4. Sapphire Awards show true-blue dedication to innovation

Again, we’ve combined the highly-read breaking news of both Sapphire Awards winners and finalists announcements, since they appear within the larger top-articles list with similar themes. LED and SSL innovation is alive and well, and the roadmap of the lighting industry shows strengthening interest in human wellbeing in the built environment as well as flexibility of design and function enabled by elegantly engineered controls schemes.

5. Identity and savings intertwine in ams Osram strategy

Ams revealed its strategy post-domination of Osram with a move to delist Osram as a separately traded entity, announced the new ams Osram Group name, and referenced expectations to reduce operational savings over the next several years, which could include shifting production lines to its major Asia-Pacific manufacturing plants.

6. Lumileds executive explores markets, portfolio diversity

An extensive interview between LEDs Magazine chief editor Maury Wright and Lumileds CEO Matt Roney delivered some can’t-miss insights into the transition from resolving general illumination challenges with LEDs to extending their capabilities into mobile and personal devices, advanced automotive SSL, and other specialties such as components for horticulture, spectrometry, and security.

7. GE Current expands C&I business with Hubbell acquisition

In yet another acquisition story, Wright mused that the landscape of the “big three” players in general lighting had altered significantly over the past several years and continues to do so as companies such as GE have parted ways with portions of their lighting operations, which essentially created a secondary player in GE Current, now owned by American Industrial Partners. Pending approvals, Current expects to close out a $350M deal for Hubbell Lighting businesses, except for Progress Lighting, in 2022.

8. Transparency of UV-C LED specs is critical for adoption

In a well-read “Last Word” column, Nichia’s Erik Swenson got down to serious business, calling upon LED manufacturers to clearly define ultraviolet-C-band (UV-C) LED specifications and set realistic expectations for their performance in end products and systems.

9. Business interruptus for smart lighting specialist

Unfortunately, lighting connectivity specialist Gooee filed for administration in London this year, after being on our coverage radar for only about 6 years. Sadly, attempts to sell the company fell through and it appears no other avenues were left to cover losses.

10. Commercial market remains an ongoing concern in the pandemic

Early on in 2021, Signify’s financial reports brought some expected consequences of the pandemic to light. In its Q4 and year-end reporting, Signify indicated that “adapting” to coronavirus conditions in the global SSL industry included cost controls such as layoffs in order to combat a decline in commercial sales and reduced supply availability.

11. Mini LED will march onward in 2021

Rohinni CEO Matt Gerber explained the challenges mini and micro LED technologies have faced, and laid out the roadmap for 2021 and beyond.

12. Full-spectrum controls unlock the potential of dynamic lighting

Lutron’s Craig Casey outlined a lighting-specification primer for educating clients on critical concepts that merge dynamic SSL with controls to optimize wellbeing and enhance the light experience in the built environment.

13. Dose factors heavily into ultraviolet disinfection system design

UV radiation, when suitably applied, delivers powerful disinfection and protection against antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, wrote Pamela Lee and Marvin Ruffin of Excelitas.

14. Educational administrators grapple with unknowns in using UV to fight COVID-19

The lighting industry has rushed many UV-C-based products to market in the face of the pandemic, with educational facilities a natural target, but Wright reported that administrators are struggling to grasp the subtleties of GUV.

15. California draws a line on quality for LED linear lighting

A development in the California market transformation space could bring renewed focus to phasing out the many remaining linear fluorescent lamps still in use across the C&I lighting sector.

16. Signify CEO eyes $2B agricultural lighting market

Executive Eric Rondolat said that food-related and UV-C applications will make up the two biggest “sustainability” businesses, followed by solar and 3-D printing of products.

17. Violet-pumped Nichia LED offers quality light and germicidal benefits

A strong peak at 405 nm means that SSL products based on a dual-purpose Nichia LED can deactivate bacterial pathogens while efficiently lighting a space.

18. Bluetooth mesh integrated in LED fixtures serves 22-story Minnesota office building

EMC, Silvair, and McWong partnered to retrofit a 470,317-sq. ft office building with Bluetooth mesh connected luminaires to deliver additional energy savings and perhaps an IoT future.

19. Super Bowl LV ushers in new approach to LED sports venue lighting

Luminaires with white plus red, green, and blue plus amber LEDs were installed at Tampa’s Raymond James stadium to light the playing field and deliver color effects.

20. Connected lighting success rests on interoperability and market clarity

Henry Wong of the Bluetooth SIG brought attention to connected lighting barriers in commercial applications, elaborating on value, ROI, and strategies that will drive increased adoption.

Check out our hot-topic blog posts

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Business moves bulk up the connected SSL and controls hit list

Which stories popped to the top of the LEDs Magazine health & wellbeing channel?

Top articles continue to shape germicidal UV awareness

CARRIE MEADOWS is associate editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 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.