It’s fitting to have the world’s largest lighting convention in the city that’s so covered in lights you can see it from space. This week the lighting show Lightfair kicks off and companies from the world’s largest — Philips, General Electric, Sharp — to small innovative startups, have been launching products and unveiling their world-domination lighting plans. Of course, LEDs (light emitting diodes) are the next generation of solid state lighting technology and are dominating the news at the show (check out our report on Opportunities in LED Solid-State Lighting on GigaOM Pro, subscription required). Here’s 10 companies that are outshining the rest:
Netherlands-based Lemnis is run by Warner Philips, the great grandson of the founder of lighting giant Philips, and the company introduced its first LED bulb that can replace an incandescent in a standard socket about four years ago. In March it raised $35.7 million in funding, and at the time Philips said the round was raised with a pre-money valuation (an estimate of how much the company is worth before the funding) of $170 million.
Philips: Yep, Dutch lighting giant Philips has finally awoken to the LED as a replacement for the common incandescent bulb (here’s a list of five of these bulbs you can soon buy). At Lightfair, Philips launched the 12-watt “EnduraLED” light bulb, which can replace a 60-watt incandescent. Philips says it can deliver 80 percent energy savings and lasts 25,000 hours, or 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb. The company hasn’t priced the bulb yet, but the current industry standard for this product is around $40-50 per bulb. Philips says it will be available in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2010.
GE/Cree: Last month GE announced its own 9-watt LED bulb that can replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb and uses Cree’s LED chip. At Lightfair this week GE is showing off that bulb, which lasts 17 years and costs between $40 and $50, according to the company. GE plans to start selling the bulb by the end of 2010 or early 2011. GE is also reportedly planning to show ideas for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) lighting applications including thin form fixture prototypes.
Redwood Systems: Lighting startup Redwood Systems officially launched its networked lighting management technology at Lightfair. The company — founded in 2008 and based in Redwood City, Calif. — uses sensors, lighting and digital tech to measure light levels, motion, occupancy, and temperature and can cut down the energy consumption of lighting in commercial buildings. The company’s centralized power system, dubbed the Redwood Engine, can power up to 64 LED light fixtures using low voltage network cables. Redwood Systems co-founder and CEO Dave Leonard is a former Cisco executive, and the company raised $12 million from Battery Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners.
Illumitex: Illumitex is using optical design to make LEDs brighter. The Austin, Texas-based 5-year-old company launched its first products last month, and has redesigned an LED package around the chip itself to deliver LEDs that are two times brighter than tech from LED competitors, according to MIT Tech Review. The company sells the LED tech to manufacturers — targeting mobile displays, televisions and general lighting — and counts Singapore’s LEDWorks as one of its customers. In March 2008 Illumitex raised its first round of $10.5 million in funding and CEO Matt Thomas told us last year that it was looking to raise another $20 million.
Sharp: Japanese electronics giant Sharp has been developing LED tech for 40 years, but at Lightfair this year it’s launching its first LED products for the U.S. market, including seven LED lamps for industrial and commercial use. While all of the lighting bigwigs have been working on LED for years, it’s only recently that companies like Sharp, GE and Philips have started to launch real commercial products.
Bridgelux: LED chip and array maker Bridgelux launched its Helieon LED light system with Molex in March, and this week at Lightfair won an award for Most Innovative Product of the Year. The technology offers a “plug-and-play” LED solution for industrial and commercial building owners, and Bridgelux says at a high enough volume, retails for less than $20 per unit, and has a lifespan of more than 10 years.
Bridgelux raised a whopping $50 million in January and brought on former Seagate CEO Bill Watkins as the new captain in an effort to scale up its production this year. The company is also on the short list of greentech IPO candidates.
Diogen Lighting: I’ve got to admit I don’t know all that much about Diogen Lighting and its LED products, except for the fact that they’ve gotten eco-actor Ed Begley Jr. to be their spokesman, and the Cleantech Group says they’re flying Begley out to Vegas this week to make the rounds. The company also has to be the only LED maker that was spun out of a company that makes “heirloom quality animated holiday decorations.” Weird.
Toshiba: Like its peer Sharp, Japanese electronics giant Toshiba is using Lightfair to move into the North American market. The company announced its “E-Core” LED product line (which it actually already recently started selling in the U.S.) at the show. E-Core provides an 85 percent power reduction compared to an incandescent bulb, and lasts 40 times longer, says Toshiba. Toshiba has actually now phased out incandescent light bulbs completely (reportedly moving that deadline up by a year) after manufacturing them for over a century.
Cavet Technologies: Canadian company Cavet launched its smart fluorescent lighting controller called the LumiSmart ILC at Lightfair. The controller, which is designed for industrial and commercial buildings, can reduce energy consumption of lighting and be installed “within minutes,” says Cavet. Like Redwood Systems, Cavet’s technology is based on using digital and network technology, and comes ready to plug into the Internet (or other networks). Buildings that use lighting like this can work with utilities to automatically be involved in demand response programs.
For more research on LEDs and solid state lighting check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):