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: High Lights

This week: Philips names Bollywood brand ambassadors for India, SSL for marijuana growth, and the Empire State Building puts on a Halloween light show.

The ESB's latest light show
Halloween marked the third major choreographed light show played out on the Empire State Building's more than 3,900 Philips Color Kinetics fixtures. The first show was a year ago, and the second was on the Fourth of July, syncing with the Macy's fireworks display. All three have been choreographed by the lighting design artist Marc Brickman. Here's a description of the MA Lighting grandMA2 controller with "80 universes" that Brickman employed last July.

Last week's show was synced to Halloween-themed music broadcast on Clear Channel radio stations, whose antennas just happen to be atop the ESB. This time around, there was 200 vertical feet (58m) added to the show; the building's antenna structure was lit for the first time and unveiled to the public at the Halloween show.

Here is a video of the entire show, 9:50 long, served from the Empire State Realty Trust's YouTube channel. Be sure to watch it in full-screen mode. You will be glad you did.

An evaluation of retail LED accent lighting
Pretty much anyone in lighting will tell you that, for retail display applications, you want light of good color quality: probably a CRI higher than 90 and a high value of R9 to render reds and saturated colors well. Now Xicato has commissioned a reasonably rigorous study of the effect of CRI (Ra) and R9 on the perception of vibrancy, eye-catching-ness, and color preference in a retail environment. The study was designed to limit the variables to Ra and R9, but the real-world setting and nature of the tests introduced some other variations.

An independent lighting specifier, Collette Knight, was retained to oversee the study. (The report does not make it clear whether she was given leeway to design the experiment or how closely she was involved in running it.) Shoe displays at the House of Fraser retail store in Oxford Street, London, were set up with lighting that could easily be switched among halogen, Xicato Artist Series, and Xicato Standard. The last category has Ra and R9 characteristics similar to those of CFL and compact metal halide. The Artist Series Ra and R9 values are close to those of halogen.

A group of actual shoppers and a group of professional color specifiers participated in separate phases of the study. They were asked for their preferences (and the reasons why) in both sequential and simultaneous comparisons of the three lighting options, with the order randomized. The results supported the thesis with which we opened. Halogen lighting emerged as the favorite for the eye-catching appeal of the merchandise it lit. The Artist Series lights finished a close second and, in some cases, were not statistically distinguishable from the preference for halogen. The Xicato Standard came in third.

I would like to know more about the degree of independence the outside expert enjoyed, but the study as presented is fairly convincing. Presumably, other high-CRI lighting options from the likes of Soraa or LED Engin would show similar results.

Philips chooses Bollywood brand ambassadors
The popular press in India is awash with the news that Philips Lighting has named the actors Shruti Hassan and Ranbir Kapoor to front the brand in that country. Kapoor is a highly bankable actor and director. Hassan is a popular Bollywood star, singer, and songwriter. Philips is entering that market with a big splash. Until now, most of the LEDs seen on the Indian subcontinent have originated in China.

I'm not familiar enough with Indian popular culture to make analogies with the wider entertainment world. Would anyone from that part of the planet like to enlighten us as to whom the Western equivalents of Hassan and Kapoor would be?

LEDs for growing funny plants
Twenty US states have legalized medical marijuana. Two, Colorado and Washington, will allow its recreational use beginning in January. The Guardian mentions a study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that found growing marijuana now accounts for approximately 1 percent of US electricity consumption -- enough to power 2 million homes. Clearly, LED lighting will make a big difference in this energy budget as legalization of cannabis spreads and a multibillion-dollar industry moves from the shadows into the light.

Lighting Science Group has been conducting controlled tests in a medical marijuana warehouse outside Denver. The Guardian reports that their positive results, and the results of underground growers' unreported experimentation with LEDs over the years, might carry over into lighting for the so-called specialty crop industry -- greenhouse-grown fruits, vegetables, and nursery plants -- which is worth $50 billion at present.

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