Ikea's venture financing arm, Ikea GreenTech, has made an investment in the Scottish company Design LED Products, giving it access to technology for thin, bendable, transparent LED lighting.
Our blogger Ron Amok recently took serious issue with Ikea's less-than-honest product claims for its $4.99 Ledare LED light bulb, saying the product is "sure to give the LED industry a black eye." Whatever you think about Ledare, the bulb is just one point in Ikea's push to eliminate CFLs and halogens from its product line in favor of LEDs by September 2015.
To make that promise work at the retail level, Ikea will need to tap a lot of technology to produce lamps, luminaires of all shapes and sizes, and lighting built into shelves and other furniture. This is why the company has invested in Design LED Products.
Based in Livingston, Scotland, DLP holds patents (from the US, China, and Europe) for some of the most OLED-like LED technology available. Its Light Tiles are essentially flexible light guides with LEDs embedded in them.
Light Tiles don't require any thermal management, because the LED junctions are spread out over a wide area (not gathered on one edge, a more common configuration for light guides). DLP can produce the modular Light Tiles in any size up to a square meter, and one that large can generate 20,000 lumens. The tiles can send light out of one or both sides, and they can be transparent (though they need not be).
The 38-second video below from Fast Company Design offers a quick introduction to the features of Light Tiles. Around 22 seconds in, you can see a connector on one edge where power from a driver enters.
DLP sells a 6-mm-thick luminaire dubbed the Edinburgh. For OEMs, it sells the Light Tile itself, 2 mm thick, dubbed the Clyde.
It is easy enough to envision some of the ways Ikea could build Light Tiles into products. Under-counter and shelf lighting spring to mind. The real payoff could come if the company uses the technology for adventurous designs that would be impossible to achieve without it. Imagine, for example, a traditional-looking, floor-standing reading lamp in which the "lampshade" is the active, glowing element.
The amount of Ikea GreenTech's investment in DLP was not disclosed. DLP's other investors (including Scottish Enterprise, Strathtay Ventures, Tricap Ventures, and Highland Ventures) also participated in the financing round.
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting