This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Monday Roundup: In the Dark

This week: more winners from the IES Progress Report, Cuba's murky energy-saving lamps, and an imitator for Philips hue.

Shanghai company has a hue imitator
It's not exactly like Philips hue, but it's close. The Smartlamp offers color-tunable, intensity-settable lighting that can be programmed. Among the differences from hue: there's only one lighting product in the Smartlamp system, for now -- a floor-standing, sculptural luminaire. Hue has a bulb, a floor-standing wall-washer, strip lighting, and several tie-ins with Disney characters.

The Smartlamp uses a custom Bluetooth controller that runs apps, not a smartphone app and WiFi as hue does. The Smartlamp comes with software to let you build your own "Lightsongs," as Igoo calls the control recipes. There is both a store for Lightsongs -- which include categories such as Dining, Daily Life, Sleeping, Love, Awakening, and Phototherapy -- and a store for apps, written by Igoo and by third parties.

It seems odd to me to build an entire app ecosystem around a purpose-built device that is not the smartphone that people carry around all day. But that aside, Igoo does look like a fairly compelling controllable lighting system for the Chinese market.

More IES Progress Report winners
Last week we listed a few of the companies that got a headstart on proclaiming their products' inclusion in the annual Illuminating Engineering Society Progress Report. Here are a few updates: Hubbell Lighting would like us to know that 10 of its products were listed by the IES Committee. And the UPRTek MK350 portable spectrophotometer, which we reviewed here last spring, made the list.

Infinite wavelength for visible light
Researchers have made a metamaterial that stretches the wavelength of visible light indefinitely. An international team has used electron-beam nanolithography to craft a material consisting of alternating nanolayers of silver and silicon nitride, which has a very small effective permitivity. Light that interacts with it sees its phase velocity drop to nearly zero -- its peaks and valleys stop moving -- and so its wavelength, whose formula has phase velocity in the denominator, grows very large.

Here is the abstract of the paper, "Experimental realization of an epsilon-near-zero metamaterial at visible wavelengths," on the website of the journal Nature Photonics.

The researchers say the new metamaterial "may find applications in novel optical components or circuits and the design of more efficient LEDs." If anyone here can shed any light, of whatever wavelength, on how that would work, I'm sure we would all be appreciative.

Cuba shows the wrong way to save energy
Replacing incandescent bulbs with new ones to save energy -- sounds like what the LED replacement bulb market is all about, doesn't it? When the government of Cuba decided to replace bulbs to save energy beginning in 2005, it replaced them with -- lower-wattage incandescent bulbs. Even 14- and 18-watt incandescents are hard to find now and are priced out of reach for many Cubans of modest incomes; one bulb might cost 15 percent of a month's wages. People are instead buying 5- and 10-watt bulbs if they can find them.

The kicker: many of the imported bulbs are designed to run on 220 volts, whereas Cuba is wired for 110 volts. So the dim bulbs shine at less than half-strength in high-ceilinged apartments, and parents complain that children can't see to do their homework (but the bulbs will last forever).

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