Now you ask me, “What does a marathon have to do with LEDs? Do you really know what you’re talking about?” I think so. Like a strong runner leading a marathon, LEDs hold promise in the world’s race to produce more energy-efficient lighting. A major technological advance over both incandescent and fluorescent lighting, LEDs use less energy, last longer, and allow more control of color and direction of light.
LED Intelligence—Essential for Winning the Race
How will LEDs fulfill their tremendous potential? Undoubtedly, the first hurdle is price. LEDs currently cost an order of magnitude more than existing lighting solutions. Saving energy is often not enough to convince price-conscious businesses and consumers to make the more expensive purchase. Manufacturing savings and volume production will likely reduce prices over time, but will costs drop enough and can it come fast enough to win over users? Those trends are uncertain and entirely debatable. Admittedly, they are beyond the scope of this article. Consider also availability, which affects price. Go to any two hardware stores and try to find the same LED lamp. It’s tough. Many retailers do not stock sufficient variety or quantity of LED lamps to pull in the casual consumer. Why? It comes back to price and efficient inventory turns. So where does that leave us, as engineers, innovators, and creative thinkers? How do we enable LED lighting to reach its potential? To win the marathon?