What kind of people does it take to change the light bulb? That’s the question veteran technology journalist Bob Johnstone addresses in his new book, LED: A History of the Future of Lighting. The answer is passionate individuals frustrated with the status quo who are determined to make the world a better – and better-lit – place.
The book tells the story of what a recent Goldman Sachs report called ‘one of the fastest technology shifts in human history,’ the most profound change lighting has experienced since the invention of electric light.
Lighting accounts for up to 20 per cent of the electricity we consume. Until recently, most of that wattage was wasted, in the form of the heat that incandescent lamps give off. LEDs by contrast use up to 75 per cent less electricity, leading to huge reductions in consumption and helping slow down climate change.
But the LED revolution also encompasses light for better health, year-round crops, as well as a host of new, previously undreamed-of applications.
The stodgy lighting industry, where nothing much has happened for 100 years is slamming head-on into the fast-paced silicon chip industry. As a result, radical change is happening.
Research shows that light affects our health and well-being. New scientific discoveries about the human eye are helping to develop lighting systems to create healthier, more productive environments at school and the office.
Also, in hospitals and retirement homes, to hasten recovery and cater to the needs of the ageing eye. And in greenhouses, to grow crops year-round. Other innovations include light as a material that can be integrated into the fabric of buildings. Or, light that can be recorded and played back to simulate natural scenarios, like dawn on top of Mount Fuji or sunset on a Maui beach.
The book is based on five years of research and interviews in Europe and America with all the key players in the field, including leaders of the world’s biggest lighting companies like Philips and Acuity Brands, CEOs of startups, legislators, lobbyists, bureaucrats, technologists, designers, and visionaries.
Shuji Nakamura, the Nobel-prize-winning inventor of the blue LED and Lux Person of the Year in 2015, told Lux: ‘Bob Johnstone has done a masterful job telling the story of how the lighting industry is going through its most dramatic technological transformation since the invention of the incandescent lamp.’
- LED: A History of the Future of Lighting, published by CreateSpace, is available on Amazon for immediate purchase.
Picture: Ladislav Markus/Wikimedia Commons