Although many industries are making great strides when it comes to new technology and trends, the LED industry is certainly amongst the leaders. Over the last decade, the LED industry has experienced tremendous growth and change, with new applications, increasing efficiencies and lower costs throughout. For multiple businesses and products, this creates great opportunity.

Recent LED Technology

The following are a few examples of recent updates in LED technology.

  • Traditionally, LED lighting systems have required external circuit board drivers capable of converting the system electricity supply into a drive current suitable for operating the LED and thus producing visible light from the diode in a stable fashion. Excitingly, there are new products emerging, which allow external drivers to be removed from the design equation. In their place are DC LED chips that handle all the power requirements for the LED directly on the chip. This allows more compact packaging and a host of new product applications. Additionally, light output relative to cost continues to increase across the industry.
  • New LED systems with dynamic beam spread without moving parts have been displayed at recent tradeshows. This provides opportunities for applications requiring custom beam control.
  • Another development is in new manufacturing processes to make arrays of LEDs, which can be useful in products.  As an example, a Finland research center has created a flexible in-molded LED foil using a roll-to-roll type process. This achievement helps demonstrate that a roll-to-roll process is suitable for manufacturing flexible LED displays that contain printed electronics.  This also has potential to dramatically cut costs in this type of product.
  • Finally, in an exciting development, Li-Fi, which is like Wi-Fi with the exception that light from LEDs is used by modulating the light on and off at high rates creating a data network. This has the potential of being useful for communications in electro-magnetic sensitive areas as well as potentially having a very broad capacity spectrum for data and very high data transmission rates.  This technology does depend on visible light and thus cannot pass through walls; so it assumed that its role might fit best in home and architectural networks where networked lighting could be placed room to room. This product is currently moving out of the research phase. Development of industry standards and actual commercialization efforts are underway around the globe in a number of organizations.

Automotive LED Trends:

Without question, LED’s are taking an ever-stronger presence in the automotive industry:

  • The automotive industry in general has expanded its use of LED lighting across all of its car lines, not just the premium models, as had been the case only a few years ago. A visit to any of the recent auto shows demonstrated an exciting and varied use of LED based lighting; with LEDs utilized for styling and functional affect in both rear and forward lighting. Likewise, LED’s have become omnipresent in interior lighting applications, creating new interior space ambiance, passenger ergonomic safety, as well as the advantage of long life without bulb changes needed.  
  • In advanced forward lighting, new exciting adaptive driving beam headlights reduce glare while optimizing illumination for the driver. These systems often use an array of LEDs, which are controlled by forward sensing technology. A microcontroller dims those LEDs in the array that may cause glare to an oncoming driver (or vehicles you are following) while effectively keeping high beams on for other areas of the roadway, adding to driver safety. These systems are approved and now in limited use in Europe. Industry standards are still being finalized in the US, but these systems have great future potential.

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