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Friday, October 24, 2014

Guest Blog : LED Lights: A Beaming Art Form
By Tom Bray : Direct Trade Supplies

LED lights are not only embraced by the eco conscious or cost savvy. Creative eyes also turn to this versatile, flexible and colourful lighting, stretching its usability to a whole new level.


Street artists often dubbed as ‘guerrilla artists’ have been known to apply LEDs to temporary creations in public places. The boom of ‘LEDThrowies’ in 2006 is a great example of this, substituting spray cans with LED lights attached to batteries and magnets. Unlike graffiti, LED Throwies remain visible against the night sky; lighting up political, social and thought provoking messages for all to ponder.

Artists also use LEDs to enhance their very own pieces of art. Whether it is sculptures, abstract creations or constructions based on a particular theme or idea, LED lights can highlight and intensify these pieces. Some artists go one step further and completely embed themselves in LEDs. Finnish artist Janne Parviainen wrapped himself head to toe with a tube of LED lights, then using long exposure camera techniques he portrayed a truly galactic vision, summing futuristic vibes straight from another universe. Parviainen says. "In my pictures you see a parallel universe which only the camera can capture".

LED lights coupled with camera trickery is a developing art form. In comparison to work by Parviainen, others artists leave LED lights to dance and tease across the night sky. This form of light art produces a vivid psychedelic scene, shooting light beams up to the sky to construct utterly awe-inspiring structures; glowing beehive cylinders, sci-fi strands, cosmetic cannons, extraordinary orbs and mind bending wires, all terms that can describe these eye catching inventions.

British freelance photographer Martin Kimbell is a grand example of how you can incorporate LED lights and long exposure camera tricks to produce something quite special. His photography displays ghostly glowing tornados and hula hooping wiry wreaths spiralling into the night sky. Practicing with LEDs since he was 16, Kimbell is now a dab hand at creating these stunning images. Modestly mastering a digital camera to test composition and lighting but nothing more elaborate, “I can leave the shutter open for as long as I want without worrying about the quality degrading or my battery running out.”

Artists are well renowned for turning something run of the mill, mundane and unassuming into something with an edge, a spectacle and a subject to puzzle over. The world of LED artwork is one of them, with artists’ using the night sky, buildings and even themselves to sorcer up an ecstatic enchantment of light architecture and design.

What’s more, these artists are using equipment which is kinder to the environment, so in some ways they are giving two things back to the world; art and planet conservation. LEDs have the scope to be compulsory, not just seen as an alternative to halogens and fluorescents but a must for all establishments.

In a time where modern technology is so advanced, surely there is no need to keep producing lamps which are so harmful to the environment? Yet unfortunately this kind of logic can be applied to most things, stop producing weapons and people won’t be killed or seeing as 92% of money is not in physical form, print more money and distribute it to the poor. Until these proposed ideas are taken seriously and god forbid actually actioned it is up to us to keep the fire burning and the light firmly lit, but remember, the lights need to be LED.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest Blog by Hazel Deller : Intelligent Lighting – How Will It Benefit You?
Intelligent Lighting – How Will It Benefit You?

The next big trend in light looks like it’s going to be intelligent lighting, but how could it benefit you?

The term intelligent lighting refers to automated Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting systems that turn on and off or dim when you leave the room, or are controlled via a smart phone app. These nifty little LEDs could spark a revolution in conventional lighting, as they boast excellent energy saving potential.

One big advantage of intelligent lighting is that LEDS can be dimmed in a way that ensures you’re actually using less energy, unlike traditional dimmer switches, which simply convert light into extra heat when they force incandescent light bulbs to dim. Although more expensive to buy, due to their added technological sophistication, LED bulbs are already extremely cheap to run. LEDs require 9 times less electricity to produce the same amount of light as their incandescent light bulb equivalents and last 10 – 20 times longer and so over their lifetime have the potential to generate considerable cost savings.

Aside from the obvious energy and money saving benefits, there are other important features to these smart little LEDs.

·      A safer house

By allowing you to turn lights on and off remotely intelligent lighting lets you control your lights when you are on holiday and create the impression with potential burglars that you are at home. They can also turn on lights that make it easier to see your keys and illuminate dark corners near your entrances.

·      An inviting atmosphere for guests

Set the mood when you next hold a gathering. Not only does intelligent lighting provide a good party trick, it also means you can make subtle changes to the atmosphere and create a warmer ambiance.

·      A helping hand with the little ones

Sending children to bed can often feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. Just when you think they’ve nodded off they decide they need a drink, or the toilet, or a story, or they need you to check under the bed… the list is truly endless.

By using your app you can send them to bed with their light on, slowly dimming, letting them gently drift off to bed naturally. Instead of leaving their night light on and wasting electricity all night (or worse sneaking in to switch it off and waking them up), you now have the ability to work some lighting magic and cut down the hassle of bed time.

This revolutionary technology has both its practical uses and interior design capabilities. We’re constantly being reminded how important it is to save energy, yet many of us struggle to see a positive impact overall on our lives. New intelligent lighting gives us the power to save, but also offers us practical uses beyond that. Not only is this a great step for interior design projects, it’s a giant leap for reducing energy usage.

Hazel Deller writes for Love Energy Savings. A business that help owners to improve their profits by reducing their day to day outgoings, saving them valuable time in the process of comparing and switching suppliers.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Hackers crack Smart LED light bulbs
The BBC are reporting that the security of net-enabled LED light bulbs made by LIFX has been cracked by hackers posing as new light bulbs joining the network.  Similar security issues could affect many other household items associated with the booming "internet of things".


Security experts have demonstrated how easy it is to hack network-enabled LED light bulbs.
Context Security released details about how it was able to hack into the wi-fi network of one brand of network-enabled bulb, and control the lights remotely.

The LIFX light bulb, which is available to buy in the UK, has network connectivity to let people turn it on and off with their smartphones.

The firm behind the bulbs has since fixed the vulnerability.

Michael Jordon, research director at Context, explained how he was able to obtain the wi-fi username and password of the household the lights were connected to.

"We bought some light bulbs and examined how they talked to each other and saw that one of the messages was about the username and password," he told the BBC.

"By posing as a new bulb joining the network we were able to get that information," he added.
"We were able to steal credentials for the wireless network, which in turn meant we could control the lights."

The LIFX project started off on crowd-funding website Kickstarter. Billing itself as the "light bulb reinvented", it brought in over 13 times its original funding target.

The master bulb receives commands from the smartphone applications and broadcasts them to all the other bulbs over a wireless mesh network.

While it had taken two experts two weeks to crack the system, the equipment they had used was cheap and readily available, said Mr Jordon.

LIFX said that it had updated its software since being notified of the vulnerability.
In a blog post, the firm said: "There was a potential security issue regarding the distribution of network configuration details on the mesh radio but no LIFX users have been affected that were are aware of.

"As always we recommend that all users stay up-to-date with the latest firmware and app updates."
Smart cities Increasingly everyday objects are being connected to the network, a phenomenon known as the internet of things.

The number of objects that can potentially be hacked is set to rise exponentially, according to research firm Gartner.

It estimates that there will be 26.5 billion physical objects embedded with technology by 2020. It believes the industry will be worth $1.9tn (£1.1tn) by that time.

"Whereas phones and laptops have had a longer time to sort out security issues, these newer devices haven't learnt and are therefore easy gateways into hacking," said Mr Jordon.

"Security costs time and money and some manufacturers are not putting in the right level of security."
Brian McGuigan, commercial director at Silver Spring Networks, a firm providing networks for smart cities and smart lighting, said the issue of security was not limited to devices for the home as more and more of the furniture in cities was also connected to the network.

"The buyers in cities have a low understanding of security, and they need to be encouraged to leverage the security standards that have been widely used in other industries."

"The internet of things is a building block for cities but a lot of companies offering products are start-ups and under pressure to get to market quickly."

source : BBC News :

Phoebus (Lighting Industry) Cartel : 1924 - 1939
During a recent BBC documentary "The Man Who Made Us Spend" which was about the tactics used by companies to help drive modern-day consumerism, Ban The Bulb was surprised to learn of the Phoebus Cartel which was founded by Osram, Philips and General Electric, amongst others, as a way reducing the useful life expectancy of their light bulbs from 2500 hours to 1000 hours and boosting sales.

This type of in-built obsolescence can still be found in many other consumer products ranging from cars, mobile phones and silicon chips, so the actions of this cartel should still act as a cautionary tale for regulators established to protect consumers or the environment.

Below is the entry from Wikipedia which explains how this cartel succeeded in shortening the lifespan of their products as a way of making them obsolete more quickly and profitably.


The Phoebus Cartel 
The Phoebus cartel was a cartel of, among others, Osram, Philips and General Electric[1] from December 23, 1924, until 1939 that existed to control the manufacture and sale of light bulbs.
The cartel is an important step in the history of the global economy because it engaged in large-scale planned obsolescence. It reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. Phoebus was a Swiss corporation named "Phoebus S.A. Compagnie Industrielle pour le Développement de l'Éclairage".The Phoebus cartel was a cartel of, among others, OsramPhilips and General Electric[1] from December 23, 1924, until 1939 that existed to control the manufacture and sale of light bulbs.
The cartel is an important step in the history of the global economy because it engaged in large-scale planned obsolescence. It reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. Phoebus was a Swiss corporation named "Phoebus S.A. Compagnie Industrielle pour le Développement de l'Éclairage".
OsramPhilipsTungsramAssociated Electrical Industries, ELIN, Compagnie des Lampes, International General Electric, and the GE Overseas Group were members of the Phoebus cartel,[2] holding shares in the Swiss corporation proportional to their lamp sales.
In 1921 a precursor organisation was founded by Osram, the "Internationale Glühlampen Preisvereinigung". When Philips and other manufacturers were entering the American market, General Electric reacted by setting up the "International General Electric Company" in Paris. Both organisations co-ordinated the trading of patents and market penetration. Increasing international competition led to negotiations between all the major companies to control and restrict their respective activities in order not to interfere in each other's spheres.
The cartel was a convenient way to lower costs and worked to standardise the life expectancy of light bulbs at 1000 hours,[citation needed]while at the same time raising prices without fear of competition. Members' bulbs were regularly tested and fines were levied for bulbs that lasted more than 1000 hours[citation needed]. A 1929 table lists exactly how many Swiss francs had to be paid, depending on the exceeding hours of lifetime[citation needed]. This was not public knowledge at the time, and the cartel could point to standardization of light bulbs as an alternative rationale for the organization.
The cartel claimed that 1000 hours was a reasonable optimum life expectancy for most bulbs, and that a longer lifetime could be obtained only at the expense of efficiency, since progressively more heat and less light is obtained, resulting in wasted electricity.[3]
The Phoebus Cartel divided the world’s lamp markets into three categories:
  1. home territories, the home country of individual manufacturers
  2. British overseas territories, under control of Associated Electrical IndustriesOsramPhilips, and Tungsram
  3. common territory, the rest of the world
In the late 1920s a Swedish-Danish-Norwegian union of companies (the North European Luma Co-op Society) began planning an independent manufacturing centre. Economic and legal threats by Phoebus did not achieve the desired effect, and in 1931 the Scandinavians produced and sold lamps at a considerably lower price than Phoebus.
The original Phoebus agreement was intended to expire in 1955[citation needed]; however, World War II greatly disrupted the operation of the cartel.

UK rejects call to include light bulb ban in EU renegotiations
According to, Energy Minister Greg Barker has resisted laws to tinker with the laws that have successfully led to a transformation of the domestic lighting industry. Tthe EU phase out of domestic incandescent light bulbs has now been law for a few years and accelerated the introduction a range of new energy efficient lighting technologies (using up to 90% less electricity) which offer good and controllable light as well as falling prices... The Ban The Bulb energy efficiency campaign is glad to see this law being defended as a way of cutting energy use and driving technological innovation.

Energy minister Gregory Barker has rejected a call for the UK to be exempted from the EU’s ban on incandescent lamps.
During a debate in the House of Commons yesterday, David Nuttall, Conservative MP for Bury North in Greater Manchester, said the UK needed a “complete exemption” from the European ban, which has seen a gradual phase out of inefficient incandescents from the market since 2009.
Nuttall said the exemption would form part of the renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership. He said the UK should be given back “the right to be able to use whatever light bulbs we want – without being told what to do by the EU”.
But the energy minister defended the ban: “By having energy-efficient light bulbs, we are driving innovation and driving down people’s electricity bills. We do not want to go back to having high-cost energy bills and turning our back on innovation.”
Sheila Gilmore, Labour MP for Edinburgh East, asked whether allowances could be made for people with “photosensitive health conditions”.

She urged the minister to consider the implications on health: “Many people clearly suffer health ill-effects from both compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED lighting.”
Barker said: “The UK is sympathetic to concerns raised about the potential health impacts of lighting.” He promised to press the European Commission to take this view into account in the upcoming review.
“We want a flexible approach. And we want to ensure that the EU takes on board the health concerns that have been raised about these technologies.”