Historic Strategies in Light event builds the foundation for SSL future (MAGAZINE)

Feb. 20, 2019
Whether business leader, product developer, lighting designer, or specifier, there will be ample opportunity to influence the future of the SSL industry using the expertise gathered at Strategies in Light. Carrie Meadows hits the highlights of the upcoming 20th anniversary program.

Strategies in Light 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the annual gathering of the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) communities, taking place this year at the Mandalay Bay hotel and convention center in Las Vegas. As our esteemed colleague and conference co-chair Bob Steele wrote last fall, until the debut of Strategies in Light, “there were no conferences that addressed the markets, applications, and technology involving LEDs.” In that linked article, Steele proceeded to catalogue and connect the developments in high-brightness LEDs (HB-LEDs) with the change and growth in the conference program’s depth.

Fast-forward to the present and the Strategies in Light conference that professionals will attend in 2019 looks much different. The overall structure of the schedule has not altered much in the past several years in terms of offering hands-on educational workshops, multiple conference tracks, and exhibition-floor networking opportunities. However, the fine details of the program tell a different story. At the upcoming event, business-, technology-, and application-driven tracks are given equal weight as their content has the potential to drive strategic business and product development decisions. These tracks feature key topics that will frame the value proposition for advancing LED technology into emerging applications and the Internet of Things (IoT) era. Following is only a sampling of what the program offers.

The kickoff

The first day of the event will be dedicated entirely to expert-led workshops and the Investor Forum. Several workshops will tackle test and measurement approaches and the latest LED and SSL standards, and another will cover optical design principles that impact product development. Light quality and control are in large part the end game for any of the hands-on, design-focused workshops. An additional workshop balances out the practical approach with intensive discussion on patent filing, protecting intellectual property (IP) rights through proper documentation, and how to handle litigation.

Simultaneously, the Investor Forum brings attention to the biggest challenges facing an industry full of growing pains and navigating a transition to a high-technology market from a conventional lighting supply-chain model. Defining company objectives and organizations’ value to the market, determining when it is time to buy or sell businesses, and balancing long-term commercial viability will be just some of the content up for discussion during the Forum.

Opening keynotes

Both Feb. 28 and Mar. 1 begin with Plenary sessions, which feature the keynote speakers who will help to frame where the industry has been in the past and how that influences the move toward a profitable and sustainable future. As we have covered in our countdown to Strategies in Light in the article linked at the beginning of this piece, Bob Steele will precede the keynotes with a bird’s-eye view of LED industry dynamics, and how markets and product developments have changed over the past 20 years, with reference to past research that examines market growth, supplier shares, and the evolution of applications in SSL. Lighting designer Nancy Clanton, CEO of Clanton & Associates, will step up to the podium to delve into the past experiences of designers and manufacturers with early LED lighting, and how those lessons, as well as recent technical challenges and design concerns, have provided opportunities for improved development and commercialization of SSL products. Clanton offered some perspective on her initial experiences with LEDs in an interview back in early December.

John Edmond, co-founder of Cree, will wrap up the Thursday Plenary session with a talk that describes the pace and state of LED technology development in the context of Haitz’s Law, how the market potential took off due to critical gains in cost-effectiveness and efficacy of the technology, and trends appearing on the horizon to drive future LED innovation.

Session spotlights

The session tracks at Strategies in Light coalesce around the following themes:

  • Track 1, Moving the Lighting Market Forward: Where We Are; Where We’re Going
  • Track 2, Advancements in LED and Lighting Technology, Design, and Manufacturing
  • Track 3, Connected Lighting and the IoT
  • Track 4, State of the Industry

Featured in Track 1 on Thursday will be a presentation by Canaccord Genuity managing director and sustainability analyst Jed Dorsheimer, who is a familiar face to some attendees for his past participation in the Investor Forum and session talks. Dorsheimer may be tweaking some of the marketing types a bit with the title of his talk — “Can We Agree it was an Evolution and not a Revolution?” — which takes a hard look at overhyped LED expectations in the past and the impact on business. He’ll provide support for his claim that technology isn’t what’s holding back the SSL industry now, but untangling the services model potential and delivering the experience that customers need to feel confident in addressing emerging applications may be obstacles.

In Track 2, LED industry consultant Eric Bretschneider will deliver his thoughts on developing a single predictive LED model for LED metrics. If you missed Bretschneider’s prior webcast on chromaticity shift, the presentation is available on demand and gets deep into the mathematical principles that will support a predictive model for that particular LED performance concern. However, he will bring attendees further down the path of enlightenment at the conference, exploring how spectral power distribution (SPD) provides the foundation for many predictive models that will expand the development of metrics for SSL.

The panel perspective

Panels also provide a unique opportunity for discourse on timely matters, bringing the audience several perspectives and opportunities to engage with participants, which can be indispensable when it comes to evaluating paths to technology implementation. Take network architectures and smart lighting, for example. Track 3 will feature a panel on wired and wireless communications for connected lighting. SSL technology continues to advance slowly into the IoT, with cost of implementing lighting controls often a stumbling block alongside the many solution options available. Panelists Michael Poplawski, Erik Davidson, Rafal Han, and Wendell Strong will present the benefits and drawbacks to various communication methods and protocols in order to better inform the consultation and specification process.

As the decision to implement SSL by commercial businesses may depend largely on financial concerns, especially where the added cost of smart technology and controls is concerned, rebates and utility incentive programs continue to play an important role. A Track 4 panel discussion, titled “Carrots and Sticks: Regulatory and Incentive Changes Driving the Advanced Lighting Markets,” will have panelists David Shiller, John Arthur Wilson, Juan Carlos Blacker, and Kandice Cohen providing examples of how regulations and rebates drive the industry’s development. They will also explain updates to regulatory efforts and incentive programs, changes in qualification requirements, and trends that reflect the emphasis on networked lighting controls (NLCs) and smart lighting systems. Shiller has provided some background on the impact of incentives to the lighting business in advance of the conference.

Closing the conference

Bretschneider will come back for an encore on the final day of Strategies in Light, opening Friday’s events with a keynote that posits how much of the present state of the SSL industry is the result of “historical accidents and events.” He will show the interplay of global events, scientific discovery, and seemingly minor shifts that affected the fundamental development of SSL.

Strategies Unlimited research director Philip Smallwood will close the Strategies in Light conference with key points from the global packaged LED market update and forecast, demonstrating the progress and obstacles the SSL industry has faced in the past year in LED adoption and application penetration.

Referring back to the early days of the conference, the centerpiece was the packaged LED. The spotlight has been on the global market update provided by research firm Strategies Unlimited, which covers the past year’s activity, market leaders, and a forecast of the global market potential over several years’ time. While that analysis is highly anticipated and offers valued insights, the management team has strategically scheduled the presentation by research director Philip Smallwood for the closing keynote. Smallwood and analyst Martin Shih recently commented on the packaged LED market forecast, which will be available as a full report for purchase in the early Spring at https://www.strategies-u.com. While subtle, this scheduling supports the historical theme of the conference, launching with Steele’s look back at the many changes and challenges of the market that drives the SSL industry, and ending with Smallwood’s perspective on market drivers and applications that will factor into future growth.

The LED and lighting communities continue to look ahead toward the future of SSL technology and applications, and there is much to be learned from the industry’s changing skillsets and priorities. The latest approach to Strategies in Light programming is designed to confront the challenges of a changing business model; understand the evolution of SSL technology; address the demands of research-backed applications; and determine how all of this information provides actionable insights into where the industry is going tomorrow and well beyond.

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.