Top 20 of 2023: Challenging economic conditions do not cloud the march toward wellbeing

Dec. 19, 2023
Although the largest players in the LED and SSL space showed the strain of global economic tides, many top stories underlined the industry’s move toward greater sustainability and healthier lighting strategies indoors and out.

This year’s analysis of the most-viewed news content on the LEDs Magazine website showed a noticeable lift in environment- and health-centric topics such as circadian lighting, the ongoing mercury phase-out, tackling light pollution, and the potential for illumination to assist the senior population.

Be advised that we’re not going to overlook the fact that a large portion of our 2023 coverage reports some negative financial news for key companies in our space, simply to paint a broad picture of a rosy future. However, in this editor’s opinion, the key thread among such stories is one of transformation impacting some of the largest organizations that are instrumental in the lighting technology space. Growth and change come with challenges. It is my personal as well as my professional brand objective for LEDs Magazine to remain aware of the prospects created amid the growing pains in the lighting market, and how agile organizations address revenue opportunities while continuing to innovate in products, services, strategies, and best practices.

As in recent years, some related stories have been combined and linked with our top 10 commentary, followed by brief recaps of stories 11 through 20.

Top 20 news stories of 2023

1. Ams Osram could shed some ams lines

While many of our stories this year involved corporate shifts amid economic uncertainties and global environmental policy changes, none was so prolific with its business moves as ams Osram. The Austrian-based photonics solutions developer brought on a “new-again” CEO (see stories #2 and #5) in former Osram Opto Semiconductors leader Aldo Kamper, who revealed within weeks of joining the combined ams Osram organization that first-quarter profits were down 95% and that the company could see further trims to streamlines its ams portfolio and operational expenses.

2. New ams Osram CEO arrives with micro LEDs very much on his plate

As mentioned above, Kamper joined the fully combined ams Osram organization this past April, immediately concentrating on areas of potential growth, such as micro LEDs. Under his past tenure with the Osram organization, Kamper was part of the 2017 Kulim, Malaysia plant opening — where production will ramp up to deliver micro LEDs for applications including displays, mobile devices, automotive, and healthcare devices, among others. Through the summer, Kamper continued to note the company’s recentering on its intelligent sensing and optical solutions, exiting lower-performing component portfolios.

3. Attention, end users: Europe is banning fluorescent lighting

The enforcement of European RoHS regulations and their impact on the sale of mercury-based fluorescent lighting was a key topic for lighting manufacturers looking to bump their LED sales, including Glamox and Fagerhult, in educating commercial prospects. Indeed, several years back the phase-out of some halogen products due to stricter efficiency standards was also expected to push greater adoption of LED lighting. However, it seems that the availability of cheaper fluorescent lighting — even with lower light quality and lifetimes — slowed the uptake in some applications. Still, Glamox noted that LED retrofit tubes may not be the optimal solution in large commercial installations, lacking the thermal management and dimming support of integrated luminaires.

4. LEDs Magazine announces 2023 BrightStar Awards Honorees

The visibility of our annual BrightStar Awards Honorees announcement came as no surprise, given the number of established names on the list looking to celebrate their recognition. Each year, LEDs Magazine and its panel of industry experts evaluate a number of exciting product entries, considering performance improvements, reliability, ease of use or integration, innovation, and efficiency. Expect that from 2024 onward, BrightStar Awards submissions will also be judged on sustainability criteria such as materials sourcing or transparency, recyclability or circularity, embodied carbon, and other environmental-impact features.

5. Ams Osram to spend nearly a billion dollars on new LED plant

The aforementioned Malaysia plant expansion by ams Osram continued to draw coverage and so it gained reader views throughout the latter half of the year. Earlier this year, analysts asked the exiting leadership whether the 8-inch-wafer-based production line would indeed be online as expected in 2024, and straight away incoming CEO Aldo Kamper visited the site in the spring, concurring that plans were proceeding on schedule to supplement the company’s semiconductor device portfolio with micro LEDs. During the late fall third-quarter financial reporting period, our Mark Halper learned that ams Osram sold the Kulim plant to a trio of Malaysian pension funds in order to lease it back at a longer-term rate and stabilize cash flow.

6. First look at the Virtual Sun for enhanced interior illumination

While it is not the first artificial skylight product we’ve seen, the Virtual Sun first launched in 2020 by Innerscene uses an interesting 3D effect and particular beam spread to mimic the behavior of natural sunlight, while the developers continued to work on enhancing the blue sky with full-spectrum output that can deliver circadian benefits, which later led to the debut of its Circadian Sky model.

7. Surveyed scientists stand behind current research for practical circadian lighting application

Demonstrating the advancing interest in commercializing circadian lighting and improving wellbeing indoors, this past January we covered a survey of the state of circadian lighting science initiated by Circadian Light in partnership with scientists from Tulane University School of Medicine, Monash University, and West Virginia University. The organizers surveyed nearly 250 scientists involved in circadian lighting studies and a consensus developed that enough practical information exists to responsibly apply circadian principles to lighting product development and lighting design as industry best practices. And while it is not a contender for top news, study leader Dr. Martin Moore-Ede also published a feature in LEDs Magazine this year further detailing how the lighting industry can protect its interests while implementing circadian lighting approaches for human wellbeing.

8. Lumileds aims to take back the night with low-blue LED offerings

Blue-light emissions certainly affect human physiology, but organizations such as Dark Sky, the Illuminating Engineering Society, and the DesignLights Consortium are on a mission to educate society on the impact of excess light at night to non-human species as well. The influence of light pollution and trespass on biodiversity, migratory and mating behaviors, and day/nighttime cycles of other living organisms have gained traction in terms of regulatory policy, especially in ecologically sensitive areas where tourism is both an economic driver and a concerning factor — such as in the Hawaiian islands. As such, Lumileds made headlines when it launched low-blue LEDs for high-quality outdoor illumination this summer.

9. Signify and Klite opening their largest factory to date

In mid-August, Signify CEO Eric Rondolat cited expansion in China as a “key component” of the lighting company’s business strategy, and it did just that with a new Klite factory announcement — 200,000 square meters of lamp and luminaire fabrication capacity to address expected growth in demand.

10. Horticulture, indoor commercial, and home markets slam Signify

Meanwhile, as with ams Osram, Signify identified struggling markets horticultural lighting and indoor commercial lighting sales slowed in the wake of energy cost increases and home lighting consumer purchasing decreased as the coronavirus pandemic was declared over. Its second-quarter financials showed little improvement, and later in the year the company continued consolidation and closure activity with various operations.

11. Signify installs its own exec as permanent boss at Fluence

After Fluence executive David Cohen’s departure, Signify appointed agricultural lighting boss Michiel van Dam as leader of the Austin, Texas–based subsidiary.

12. Signify discontinues UV-C sales to the consumer market

Citing declining demand for surface disinfection solutions in the consumer space, Signify closed out the segment in favor of solutions aimed at commercial/professional use for germicidal applications.

13. At Cree LED, the products keep coming out but the sales keep going down

Despite a challenging economic environment, the LED division of Smart Global Holdings (SGH) Inc. rolled out several new emitters designed to serve in large-scale, high-end display applications and indoor retail lighting. Corporate parent president Mark Adams remained optimistic that the LED business was competitively positioned to meet new inventory needs.

14. Acuity launches DC system with ease for classroom integration in mind

Acuity’s DC2DC architecture utilizes low-voltage Class 2 cabling and a DCHUB distribution point to reduce the number of installation and maintenance points for lighting infrastructure; enables native support for tunable white lighting; and simplifies both zoned and individual luminaire control for flexible configurations in educational environments.

15. Ams Osram positions mini LEDs for automotive tail lights

Sensing an opportunity for ever-smaller LEDs, ams Osram demonstrated an alternative to OLED taillight technology with mini LEDs on a thin and flexible foil substrate.

16. World’s largest vertical farm serving greens from the desert

The Bustanica indoor farm in Dubai is capable of yielding up to one million kilograms of leafy greens per year under spectrum-controlled Philips LED grow lights from Signify.

17. LED legend Nakamura is now chasing nuclear fusion

The Nobel Laureate founded a company called Blue Laser Fusion with the objective to experiment with boron and hydrogen in order to achieve nuclear fusion for potential power generation technology.

18. Signify takes ‘beyond lighting’ literally beyond lighting

Signify’s “Interact Space analysis” sensor offering tracks occupancy, temperature, humidity, and air quality to give property operators insights on how to optimize space and to intelligently alter the climate via the HVAC system. The company notably positioned the latest sensors for remote deployment, independent of lighting infrastructure.

19. Nichia files infringement lawsuit against Bridgelux LED distributor in Japan

LED developer Nichia Corporation filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court to seek damages and prevent the sale of specific Bridgelux F90 Series LEDs by electronics component distributor CoreStaff Co., Ltd., alleging that seven Bridgelux components infringe Nichia’s Japanese patent no. 4974310, limited to the scope of the specified products in Japan.

20. LHRC study finds LEDs help prevent falls among older adults

Mount Sinai’s Light and Health Research Center investigated the role of visual-cue lighting to help prevent nighttime falls in older populations, who often find it difficult to maintain stability and orient themselves in low-light environments. Scientists continue to expand their investigation in multiple assisted living communities with a doorframe-mounted light kit in partnership with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Compare the past three years’ trends

Top 20 of 2022: News reflects swings in LED application focus to counter supply and demand concerns

Top 20 stories of 2021 indicate market pushes beyond UV

Top 20 reflects coronavirus concerns, companies in flux during 2020

CARRIE MEADOWS is editor-in-chief of LEDs Magazine, with 20-plus 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.