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What’s New, What’s Next? — LED Technology

   If there are LEDs from different bins on the same display, we can adjust the levels and produce uniform color,” says Mamoru. “It is a very involved process to make sure the uniformity of the display continues for the life of the product.”

  Interestingly, LEDs do not burn out; they fade. “As they start to dim with age, you may need to increase the brightness level to get it where it was in the first few years,” says Johanna Ocampo, Barco’s Press & PR Specialist for North America. “If you need to change out a module, we have the technology that will measure its brightness and match it to the least level of brightness on the display for continuity.”

  Barco LED video displays continue to drive creative applications, such as “The Comcast Experience” at Philadelphia’s Comcast Center. The LED wall is comprised of 6,771 LED modules and offer viewers over 10 million pixels on an 83.3 foot wide by 25.4 foot high viewing surface. The Comcast Experience is currently the world’s largest installation of 4mm pixel pitch LED displays

   Legislation and Standards

   In less than two decades, LED technology has become a technology foundation that can do something as simple as cove lighting to as complex as a large format video display. However, the absence of LED specification standards is an issue plaguing this quickly-evolving technology. Link and his colleagues at TI concur that U.S. government legislation will drive the adoption of LED technology, pointing to Europe where incandescent lighting will be phased out by 2012

   Dowling at Philips Color Kinetics agrees that standards are sorely needed. “2008 was the year when three major standards for measuring color, lumens, and a testing method for lumen maintenance were established,” he says. “Those standards were also used by the Department of Energy’s EnergyStar program in their guidelines issued last fall. The standards are meant to level the playing field.”

   That leveling effect is needed since, by Link’s count, the fragmented lighting industry has more than 100 fixture manufacturers in the USA alone. Link has seen an accelerated effort to create energy efficiency standards such as Californias Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings (Title 24, Part 6, of the California Code of Regulations).

“It regulates how you look at the efficiency of led light. You measure from plug to surface since components do incur losses,” he says. “It is best to know under what conditions it was it measured: was it in a lab or a fixture you can visit? What was the ambient temperature? How long was it on? Does the measurement account for the power supply? It is a challenge since that information is not readily available from all manufacturers.”

Looking ahead

As LED technology continues to innovate at a dramatic pace, issues like cost, light output, efficacy, and efficiency will improve. Applications will transition from indirect to direct lighting as performance progresses. “On the AV side, adding control systems and networking capabilities will further the value proposition of LEDs even more by adding automatic dimming and other advanced features,” says Dowling.

Barco’s Ocampo sees applications like modular designs and creative displays that are not married to one form or function, such as LED ribbons in a stadium or video displays wrapped in architecture. Meanwhile, Link thinks that led backlights will be integral in PCs, TV screens, mobile phones and handheld devices, resulting in slimmer enclosures and more energy efficient devices.

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