SSL Technology Update: October 29, 2012

Oct. 30, 2012
In this week's update: The LED market sector is looking up with positive financials from key players Philips and Cree. Daintree Networks also made news with open-source software that can speed development of networked lighting products.

Philips reported comparable quarter sales growth of 5% across its many businesses, but perhaps the most positive news was in the lighting sector -- specifically in the area of LEDs. The company said that Lumileds, the LED manufacturing division, enjoyed double digit growth. Global CEO Frans van Houten said, "In Lighting, LED-based sales continued to show strong momentum with comparable sales growth of over 50%, which requires us to accelerate the rationalization of our conventional lighting industrial footprint." The company said that LED-based products made up 24% of all sales in the lighting business.

Separately, Philips joined with computer networking specialists Cisco to share its vision of connected public lighting in smart cities. The two published a paper on the topic and described a new metric called the total value of ownership that encompasses benefits of connected lighting that go beyond energy savings including job creation and livability.

At Cree, first quarter revenue for fiscal 2013 totaled $315.8 million dollars -- up 17% over the comparable quarter in 2012 -- and net income grew 26%. The revenue was also 3% up over the 4th quarter of fiscal 2012.

Cree followed the financial announcement with the release of new CXA LED arrays packaged on metal-core boards that span the range of 500 to 5000 lumens. Cree has previously been a minimal player in this LED technology area that some in the industry call chip-on-board arrays. The products simplify the solid-state lighting design task as product developers can use an array, a solder-less socket, and off-the-shelf optics to quickly deliver a product. Cree sees the target applications as ranging from retrofit lamps to downlights and delivered a reference design of a 900-lm PAR38 lamp at the introduction.

Daintree Networks also made a recent announcement that's intended to speed product development, specifically of wirelessly-connected lighting products. The company is expanding its ControlScope Connected Community program to include IC manufacturers such as Silicon Labs that makes wireless-enabled microcontrollers. Daintree further announced ZigBee-based open-source firmware that will run on the Silicon Labs EM357 microcontroller that also includes ZigBee hardware support. Wireless module manufacturer California Eastern Labs also joined the ControlScope program. Now lighting manufacturers without extensive wireless experience can still deliver network-enabled products.