Sapphire Awards program recognizes leaders pushing LED technology beyond lumens (MAGAZINE)

March 28, 2018
Now in its fourth year, the LEDs Magazine Sapphire Awards solidifies its commitment to addressing the frontrunners responsible for the evolution of SSL technology as applications continue to emerge with more complex needs and capabilities, writes Carrie Meadows.

Now in its fourth year, the LEDs Magazine Sapphire Awards solidifies its commitment to addressing the frontrunners responsible for the evolution of SSL technology as applications continue to emerge with more complex needs and capabilities, writes CARRIE MEADOWS.

During the week of Strategies in Light in Long Beach, CA (Feb. 13-15, 2018), the stars aligned to light the way to the LEDs Magazine Sapphire Awards Gala on the RMS Queen Mary, where PennWell's LED & Lighting Network, industry leaders, and solid-state lighting (SSL) professionals gathered at the blue carpet to commemorate their experience with a photo and celebrate the LED-centric innovations and advances that were submitted to the program this past year.

Entertainer Taylor Hughes gave the packed venue a taste of comedy and illusion, while the Swing Cats big band led by trumpeter Dan Methe got the crowd on their feet and swinging to the beat of standards from the 30s through the 50s with their dynamic sound. What lent the evening a more personal touch was the engagement of many well-known SSL industry professionals as presenters who shared their enthusiasm for the Sapphire Awards program with those who received top honors. Winners were then interviewed for an upcoming video.

The champagne fizzed, the entertainment dazzled, and toward the presentation of the winners, the evening gave over to a spirit of both camaraderie and friendly competition as the announcements were eagerly awaited.

For 2018, the Sapphire Awards program was expanded with new categories. Recognizing that there are many lighting designs that could not be achieved without the flexibility of form and function enabled by SSL, we opened submissions for lighting projects. Designers, specifiers, and SSL manufacturers heeded the call and delivered on some excellent examples of how SSL and its inherent digital aspects and controllability make it a value-add to any project, whether commercial real estate enhancement, educational or institutional lighting, or outdoor decorative or area lighting.

The second addition to the Sapphire Awards program was the launch of the Humanitarian Award. In planning discussions, it occurred to the team and the judging panel that there are other contributions involving SSL that go beyond engineering and design excellence, and they too are worthy of accolades. The Humanitarian Award thus was born out of a desire to honor a company or organization that has provided lighting materials, lighting products, or services to those in need within the last 18 months.

Of course, the heart of the program still relies on advancing LED-centric enabling technologies and components, SSL end products, and systems for specific SSL applications. Each year the technology categories tend to shift slightly in terms of emerging markets and incoming commercialized products, such as smart lighting, advanced controls features for human-centric lighting, or lighting for health and wellbeing, horticultural lighting, and specialty SSL applications including industrial, automotive, medical, and other life-science driven functions. And, as always, the judges considered several deserving applicants as this year's Illumineer of the Year, looking ahead to the future of SSL and not only seeing the possibilities but working toward them in the present, both from an engineering perspective and a value perspective in showing how SSL integrates into applications to address needs beyond the illumination source.

As we have in the past, in an upcoming article we will release the scores for those entries that received 3.25 Sapphires and above. But first, let's look at the details that enabled the winners to take home Sapphire trophies this past February. Bookmark Sapphire Awards for program updates in the coming year. You can also watch a short video below that provides highlights of the evening's presentation.

Illumineer of the Year

The Illumineer of the Year represents an individual or team who has developed innovative technology that enables high-quality lighting products while lowering operational and/or product costs. The technology may not yet be evident in commercially available products but would need to demonstrate commercial viability and value under our judges' criteria. Past winners include:

• The Lumileds team of Eric Senders, Bob Zona, Rene Helbing, Mushfeque Manzur, and Catherine Othick for their work on the Luxeon COB (chip-on-board) LED with CrispWhite technology (2015)

• Brian Chemel, co-founder of Digital Lumens, for the LightRules software-based lighting management system and working toward advances in networks/controls for smart buildings (2016)

• Alexander Wilm, a senior key expert for SSL at Osram Opto Semiconductors, for his contributions to SSL development not only at the company but in the lighting industry, including color quality and efficacy efforts for LEDs (2017)

The 2018 Illumineer, Enlighted co-founder and chief technology officer Tanuj Mohan, received high praise from industry peers for the development of the Enlighted smart sensor-based networking system. In his earlier years, while programming alone in the evenings, Mohan recognized that office resources were wasting energy and dedicated himself to the task of developing network management solutions that could reduce unnecessary demands on building infrastructure. And thus Enlighted was born in 2009.

Illumineer of the Year Tanuj Mohan of Enlighted.

Finding the right location for the smart sensors the company built was paramount. Mohan determined that by leveraging the ubiquitous lighting infrastructure and using mesh networking techniques to balance the load on the network, engineers could achieve new levels of insight into energy usage, building systems, occupancy, space planning, and more. The system's smart sensors are able to be upgraded via the app-based technology, serving to future proof the smart lighting platform.

With his company, Enlighted, and its intelligent sensor- and mesh-based system that leverages the Internet of Things (IoT), Mohan has delivered on his objective to provide a smart building management strategy - one that has been installed in 165 million ft2 of space.

Packaged LEDs and OLEDs

Bridgelux has made a name for itself in delivering both packaged LED and modular components that help SSL product developers achieve new levels of light quality while delivering SSL products to market in a faster, more cost-effective manner. Indeed, we have recognized the company just within the past year as a finalist in this very category for its Vero Series SE array. This year, Bridgelux took home the Sapphire Award for the Vesta Dim-To-Warm chip-on-board (COB) LED (part numbers DS150/151), part of the Vesta family of arrays that enable simulation of incandescent dimming. Featuring a minimum CRI of 95 and 96-102-lm/W efficacy, the COB LEDs are available in a 6W, 9-mm light-emitting surface (LES) model and a 12W, 12-mm LES model. Dim-to-warm capability offers the familiar glow of incandescent and halogen light sources with the energy efficiency, long lifetime, and dynamic controllability of LED technology. The devices are targeted at retail and hospitality, architectural and museum, entertainment, food, healthcare, and residential lighting applications.

Bridgelux Vesta 12-mm Dim-To-Warm COB LED.

Modular LED Light Engines

The engineering team behind the SoraaLaser LaserLight fiber module was also a finalist in the Illumineer of the Year category, which speaks highly of this winning product's origins and potential. SoraaLaser has engineered the light source to deliver up to 500 lm from an ultrasmall spot, generating a luminance of 1k cd/mm2 - 100× that of LED technology, the company claims. Light is delivered via LaserLight Fiber from a blue laser diode to a remote phosphor module for broad-spectrum white output. The technology is expected to enable novel lighting effects especially in compact SSL designs for outdoor street and stadium lighting, entertainment and architectural applications, and more industrial-type installations for mines, poles, bridges, and rigs. Indeed, last year SoraaLaser co-founder and senior vice president Dr. Paul Rudy spoke with Strategies in Light co-chair Bob Steele about laser-based light sources and the advantages that semipolar gallium-nitride (GaN) laser technology bring, such as higher gain and a lack of droop at higher drive currents, compared to conventional c-plane indium gallium nitride (InGaN) laser sources.

SoraaLaser LaserLight fiber module.

ICs and Electronic Components for SSL

ams has been leading the pack with its developments in smart sensors for tunable lighting and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, first demonstrating at Strategies in Light 2015 an integrated circuit (IC) with an embedded sensor that added color-tuning capability to luminaire designs. The following year, ams announced the AS7221 light-management component that integrated a tristimulus sensor based on the RGB (red, green, blue) color coordinates in the CIE (International Commission on Illumination) 1931 color space. The device's sensor enabled fine-tuning of the pulsewidth-modulation signal generators to provide granular control and precise color output for tunable-white SSL products. And now the company has won a Sapphire Award for its compact AS7225 tunable-white smart sensor, which also leverages the tristimulus sensing technology, which is pre-calibrated and features adaptive algorithmic support on the embedded microprocessor to implement closed-loop, autonomous adjustment of variable-CCT and daylight-responsive LED lighting products. Fast-forward to this past December, when the sensor specialist launched its most recent addition to this AS722X family, and we're seeing signs that the company has sensed a niche that is tuned to success.

ams AS7225 tunable white smart sensor block diagram.

Constant Current LED Drivers

We can spend plenty of time talking up the features of commercial lighting fixtures, but when AC power is lost, backup power components need to come to the rescue. Operative lighting is a must in commercial buildings in order to ensure the safety of occupants exiting the building and any workers or EMS personnel entering to assess the situation inside. Osram's Digital Lighting Systems has combined the best of both worlds in its Optotronic programmable LED driver that provides both emergency and normal mode functionality into a single driver that can be designed into various SSL luminaire designs, eliminating the need to install separate emergency backup lighting. The programmability of the driver is its most critical characteristic; output current, light output, dimmability, and other features can be set by OEMs. The LED driver also enables lighting to switch over from normal to emergency mode in less than 2 seconds.

Osram Digital Lighting Systems' Optotronic LED emergency driver.

Constant Voltage LED Drivers

In the Packaged LEDs and OLEDs category, we mentioned dim-to-warm as a sought-after feature in many SSL designs due to its familiar, comforting glow that mimics incandescent light. Such a design requires a high-performance driver to achieve truly smooth dimming along the range of CCTs desired. Enter the VintageDim LED driver from Optic Arts, a 24-VDC constant-voltage driver for Flex STP LED strips. The 0-10V DIM010V.W programmable dimming module ships standard with a dimming curve from 1800-2700K, but proprietary software enables additional lighting effects such as crossfades, discrete CCT steps, and customized static CCTs.

VintageDim dim-to-warm LED driver by Optic Arts.

SSL Enabling Technologies

The LVS3-48 liquid-crystal lens by startup LensVector speaks to the possibilities of spatial tuning in SSL luminaires. Spatial tuning, as we have written before, involves changing the colors and angles of artificial indoor lighting to mimic the way sunlight shifts throughout the day. The liquid-crystal lens utilizes no moving parts yet allows continuous beam shaping from 10° to 52°. At LEDucation in early 2017, lighting manufacturer Intense Lighting demonstrated an LED downlight that leveraged LensVector's liquid-crystal lens technology, showing how the combination of the dynamic lens system, power-control architecture, and apps for remote control could eliminate optics replacements and manual adjustments of accent lighting, for example, in a busy retail or hospitality environment.

LensVector LVS3-48 liquid-crystal lens.

Tools and Tests in SSL Design

Fifteen years of developing and manufacturing tunable LED light sources back up Gamma Scientific's RS-7-7 SpectralLED tunable LED light booth, which simulates an extensive range of lighting conditions using 35 discrete-wavelength LED channels (from ultraviolet to near infrared). A built-in RMS spectral fitting enables simulation of any spectrum imported by the user. Each channel is supported by a constant-current drive circuit with 16-bit DAC resolution for high-resolution digital brightness control. The SpectralLED light source is programmed with NIST-traceable calibration by an in-house ISO/IEC 17025 NVLAP Accredited Calibration Laboratory. No external software is required for control. The flexibility of the light booth can reduce the need for multiple equipment setups.

Gamma Scientific RS-7-7 SpectralLED tunable LED light booth.

Smart and Connected SSL Enabling Technologies

Back in 2016, Samsung launched its initial foray into smart lighting technology with the Smart Lighting Module (SLM) designed to bring network connectivity to luminaires in which it could be embedded. Now the Samsung Smart Lighting Platform (SLP) has been extended with a full suite of firmware; software-driven controls; drivers; control, communications, and sensor modules; and cloud-connected services. In our March 2017 issue, Samsung LED engineer Kyeongik Min explained how an end-to-end system such as the SLP could accelerate SSL from smart systems to human-centric functionality that can be scaled from homes to buildings to outdoor applications. Multiple sensor modalities include ambient temperature/humidity, occupancy, and daylight sensing. White-point tuning has been incorporated alongside dimmability, and over-the-air functionality is supported through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) mesh technology. A Wi-Fi/BLE bridge enables remote control via the cloud, syncing between smartphones and other smart devices over the app.

Samsung LED Smart Lighting Platform.

Smart and Connected SSL Systems

Fully auto-commissioning wireless smart lighting is a decidedly enticing option for upgrading to networked lighting in applications from a single room to a mid-size commercial space. Last year, Eaton released the WaveLinx wireless connected lighting system with wireless area controllers that use a mesh networking topology to control and communicate amongst as many as 200 devices - luminaires, switches, sensors, and other controls included. The preloaded code-compliant lighting control scenarios mean an installer can simply associate a luminaire with a controller and the luminaire will automatically be set to meet the most stringent energy codes in the world, according to Eaton. A mobile app with a simple drag-and-drop zoning feature gets the job done without adding complex programming time to the installation.

Eaton WaveLinx wireless connected lighting system.

Residential SSL Lamp and Luminaire Design

Plenty of smart lights on the market offer remote control via apps. But LEDvance has found an interesting niche with the Smart+ A19 filament LED lamp. Filament lamps attempt to reproduce that retro design and incandescent glow with thin filaments of LED sources. But the dimmability, 650-lm output, and 2700K CCT bring together all the desirable characteristics of the familiar incandescent performance while infusing the lamp with intelligence courtesy of the hub-free local connectivity of Apple's Bluetooth-enabled home automation technology called HomeKit, and offering the familiar voice control of Siri. To control lamps away from the home location or program them to respond to "what if" scenarios, cloud control is enabled via Apple TV or an iPad connected to iCloud.

LEDvance Sylvania Smart+ A19 filament LED lamp.

Commercial-Quality SSL Lamp Design

Often put to work in retail merchandising, food display and sale, and museum or art gallery applications, workhorse PAR lamps need to deliver accurate color rendering while maintaining consistent CCT across all lamps in a space. The CRI of 90, R9 65, and R13 90 achieved by the winning Refine Series PAR38 LED lamp by Green Creative brings out the beauty items on display. (Green Creative's Refine Series PAR30 LED lamp was a finalist in the 2016 Sapphire Awards program.) Now of course reducing the heat output by such lamps is a must in these applications to keep from damaging goods and precious artwork; and reducing overall energy costs is a healthy side effect when each lamp consumes only 17W while emitting 1430 lm for an efficacy of 84 lm/W. The fully-dimmable lamps are able to be placed in enclosed fixtures, and rely on the patented three-part Refine optic, which comprises a reflector, focus lens, and shaping lens to realize smooth, uniform light output.

Green Creative Refine Series PAR38 LED lamp.

Indoor Ambient, Cove, and Accent SSL Luminaire Design

Several years ago, Vode Lighting launched what it called an "anywhere lighting solution" with the low-profile ZipOne linear lighting system. That system featured up to 88-lm/W efficiency. In 2016, Vode Lighting found itself competing in this very same category with two new linear light fixtures. This year, the ZipThree 707 wall-mount luminaire beat out the competition with the combination of its 110-lm/W efficacy at standard output, slim form factor, multiple mounting options, and remote drive capability. The 0.27-in.-thick luminaire practically disappears against architectural surfaces and leaves no trace of the mounting hardware to interfere with aesthetics in the space.

Vode Lighting ZipThree 707 wall mount luminaire.

Indoor Decorative Pendant Luminaire Design

Leveraging its unique approach to SSL fixture design, Fluxwerx has won Sapphire Awards two years in a row. In that linked interview, vice president of product design Scott Santoro told LEDs Magazine editor Maury Wright the anidolic optics that the company has developed efficiently transfer light energy, while dispersing and mixing the light, to achieve a smooth light distribution without visible images of the LED point source. And the company did it again with the Spoke suspended LED pendant - creating a luminaire with a hollow aperture, fully luminous interior, flexible controls, white-point tuning, and minimalist looks that bring both high style and dynamic functionality in one classy pendant design.

Fluxwerx Spoke suspended LED pendant.

Indoor Troffer and Downlight SSL Luminaire Design

Beyond the extremely slim 0.5-in. ceiling extension, an additional benefit of Kichler's winning Horizon LED downlight (model 43855WHLED30T) is that the close flush-mount fit reduces air leakage in rooms, boosting overall energy efficiency in homes. This alternative to recessed can lighting attaches right to a junction box for shallow mounting that does not interfere with soffits, rafters, or HVAC and plumbing work. Three-step installation reduces the time to place fixtures. The dimmable, 90+ CRI, 3000K CCT downlight distributes a 110°, 850-lm beam with luminous efficacy of 68 lm/W.

Kichler Horizon 43855WHLED30T LED downlight.

Industrial SSL Luminaire Design

Most people think of lighting simply as something that allows us to see, but what they don't realize is that all light has properties that cause certain non-visual-related results. Take, for example, a food and beverage warehouse or manufacturer where all the product is exposed to light during processing, packaging, and storage. Blue-light wavelengths under 500 nm are thought to be responsible for the degradation and oxidation of many products, which changes taste, smell, and even nutritional value of consumables. Conventional white-light LED products generally produce a high level of blue energy, so adoption of SSL in manufacturing and storage/transport environments has been slow. Rather than blocking the blue light with a sleeve, which wastes the light energy, Hubbell Industrial Lighting developed an LED optic for its SpectraLoc high bay that absorbs the undesirable wavelengths and retransmits them at longer wavelengths. This "Stokes Shift" method helps the luminaire to maintain efficiency while producing a more optimized light output that is nondestructive as well as visually comfortable at a CRI of 75.

Hubbell Industrial Lighting's SpectraLoc LED high bay.

Specialty SSL Design

Fraen Corporation is no stranger to the Sapphire awards, having won two years in a row for a nested lens and a color-mixing optical system. Detailed inspection and imaging techniques in medical and industrial applications require advanced optical technologies. Combining a patent-pending elliptical total internal reflection (TIR) optic with a light guide in Fraen's embedded optic module (part no. OM003-0100) efficiently couples light from the LED source into an optical fiber to deliver battery-powered endoscope and borescope illumination. The module's compact form factor eliminates the need for bulky inspection tools based on larger, lamp-based light sources such as metal halide and xenon, as well as eliminating frequent lamp replacements. The optic module is robust enough to be reusable and sterilizable but is designed to be low-cost enough to be disposable as well.

Fraen Corporation embedded optic module OM003-0100.

Horticultural Lighting

We've stated numerous times that in order for the LED and lighting industry to thrive, it needs to nurture emerging applications with the right blend of science and SSL features. Horticultural lighting is one of the markets that our colleagues at analyst firm Strategies Unlimited expect to drive LED systems and technology revenues in the future. Horticultural lighting specialist LumiGrow has taken its Pro Series product development even further, blending SSL hardware with the abilities of smart lighting controls to adjust lighting intensity, photoperiod, and spectrum within zones. The system is engineered to meet diverse operations ranging from research to high-light crop growers. From light source integration in multiple-channel arrays in various luminaires, to software-based lighting programming and adjustments, to a smart Light Sensor Module that can help determine daily light integral (DLI) needed for optimal growth, the smart lighting system makes sense of technology-driven grower operations.

LumiGrow smart horticultural LED lighting.

Outdoor Landscape and Architectural SSL Design

Back in 2016 and 2017, Hubbell's Architectural Area Lighting was recognized as a finalist in the outdoor lighting categories for its original KicK luminaire and the subsequently-released KicK bollard. The designers know how to develop luminaires that either deliver a specific architectural element or blend into the surrounding aesthetics, as is the case with the Cypher wall sconce. The feature the company labels "Ghost Fascia" allows for building materials to be applied to blend the fixture into the existing architecture. Multiple IES beam distributions and illumination patterns produce different lighting effects and apply light only where it is desired. RGBW or white luminous face options can be controlled via DMX or Bluetooth with a remote app, and open up wayfinding opportunities for commercial, healthcare, and other campus locations. Additional form factors and finish options bring further versatility to outdoor wall lighting applications.

Architectural Area Lighting Cypher wall sconce.

Outdoor Street and Area SSL Luminaire Design

Dual-Lite is also a multi-time finalist in the Sapphire Awards, in both 2016 and 2017. This year, the winning GeoPak outdoor LED wallpack with Hubbell Outdoor Lighting offers both "Normally On" and emergency egress lighting outdoors. Targeted optics provide 33-ft spacing at 10-ft mounting height with 23-ft forward throw on a 10-ft path. The wallpack provides full cut-off and Dark Sky compliance. Proper light levels were considered for the additional illumination needs of emergency situations; the longer-life battery achieves about 3115-lm output, with delivery of 658 lm in emergency mode for a minimum of 90 min. Optional motion sensing can change the light intensity level when motion is detected.

Dual-Lite and Hubbell Outdoor Lighting GeoPak LED wallpack.

Lighting for Health and Wellbeing

A finalist in several 2016 Sapphire Awards categories and now a two-time winner with its Indigo-Clean ambient lighting, Kenall Manufacturing has upped its healthy lighting game with a full line of luminaires that feature 405-nm indigo light blended with white LED light to kill bacteria in the air and on surfaces. Why is the technology being acknowledged a second time? The line now includes sealed healthcare, behavioral health, correctional, high-abuse and cleanroom/containment luminaires, as well as downlights. Added features such as multiple lighting modes, various form factors, dimming, a range of lumen outputs, tool-free lamp access in some fixtures, cleanable surfaces, and varying levels of protection for critical environments. Optional antimicrobial finishes are available on specific models.

Kenall Manufacturing Indigo-Clean Luminaire Series.

SSL Smart Lighting Project

Now we turn to projects, which were just added to the Sapphire Awards program for this year. The smart lighting project award was given to one SSL project that exemplified optimal use and cost scenarios for smart lighting, raising the profile of connected lighting systems and their value proposition as the SSL industry moves to a systems- and services-driven model.

Mike Xenakis, vice president of education sales at Enlighted, and Frank Biancu, Cheshire's maintenance foreman, worked alongside the utility-funded Energize Ct program to provide upgraded LED lighting and advanced controls to the Cheshire, CT public school system. The seven schools require less maintenance with the new, quality SSL, meaning fewer lamp changes, fewer expenditures, and a reduced risk of injury to maintenance workers who were previously responsible for routinely changing out fluorescent lamps and ballasts. The Enlighted system enables additional security measures with its activity monitoring features. Upgrades were paid for out of future energy savings, which is a significant win on an educational budget.

Smart lighting and controls specialist Enlighted worked with the Cheshire Public School System to improve light quality, reduce environmental impact, and decrease costs in a Sapphire Award-winning smart lighting project.

SSL Outdoor Lighting Project

Incorporating façade and architectural lighting outdoors can take a building project from location to landmark. StandardVision collaborated with architect AC Martin and builder Turner Construction to design, manufacture, and install a multimedia and lighting concept that stands out in the Los Angeles skyline. The 73-story Wilshire Grand skyscraper in downtown LA now features integrated LED media displays, narrative LED lighting, and programming content through the building's façade, courtesy of StandardVision's custom integration of a broad set of SSL products. Tight control of the LED systems and the intricate process of integrating the lighting and displays into the building materials earned this landmark project Sapphire winner status.

The winning outdoor lighting project in LA leverages StandardVision-specified SSL systems to illuminate the Wilshire Grand Center in style.

Humanitarian Award

We will close with our last new addition to the Sapphire Awards program this year. The Humanitarian Award was developed to recognize activities outside of the traditional business realm that support local or global efforts by providing lighting materials, lighting products, and/or services to those in need.

The inaugural winner, the Philips Lighting Foundation, has a history of humanitarian acts relative to helping underserved regions get needed access to light in homes and throughout communities. For example, LEDs Magazine wrote back in 2012 about the launch of a program across Africa that would ultimately light 100 community recreational centers using solar power in communities that did not have a reliable electrical grid. The company has extended its support into Indonesian communities to transition from potentially-hazardous kerosene lanterns to solar lighting, where access to safe and sustainable lighting is very limited and geography results in nightfall around 6:00 PM each day. Working with Kopernik, Philips says the project will see around 1200 homes receive solar lighting systems. The duo previously worked together in other villages in the regions providing solar home systems as well as solar road lighting. Lastly, Philips has also partnered with LEDsafari to provide a solar-lighting-centric training program in developing countries or what are sometimes called bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) communities. The training program will create job opportunities for the young students that master the curriculum while helping the regions develop the expertise to take advantage of emerging solar-energy technology, including LED-based lighting, and build out a comprehensive solar infrastructure as the only real energy options in such areas. In all of these projects, the company has shown that it can improve the lives of those in less-developed regions.

The Philips Lighting Foundation has won the first Humanitarian Award at the Sapphire Awards Gala for its work in bringing safe solar lighting to underserved locations around the globe.